For all my data loving readers out there.
If you are being forced into a marriage or already have been and need help call: 571-282-6161
Child marriage is the opposite of an equal partnership
Child marriage creates a power imbalance and abuse is an inevitable
Child brides are most often timid, shy and have low self esteem
Girls with a voice, skills or ideas are not generally wanted
There is more likely to be a greater age difference which magnifies the power imbalance and often leads to more abuse
For girls age 15-19 around the world, the leading cause of death is childbirth
Child brides have a higher rate of HIV, are more likely to be raped and beaten by their partners
Child brides often have difficulty accessing contraceptives and often do not have a say of when or how many pregnancies they have
Once a child has been married, it is very difficult to get “unmarried”
Some are essentially on house arrest, no transportation, no means to file paperwork
Don’t have the knowledge to navigate the system
It is not unusual that when a child brides tries to leave a marriage, she will lose custody of her children
Lack of housing, job skills, income and mental health issues can all result in losing their children
In some states a minor can’t even file the paperwork on her own behalf
Child marriage on a Global Level
Each year 12 million girls are married before their 18th birthday
Some as young at 4 or 5 are married
Female genital cutting is often part of this practice
Many families marry off their children because they cannot afford to feed them
For some families it is more based in tradition
Some countries have an app that sends an SOS type signal to organizations that will try and rescue the child
There are no religions that sanction forced marriages
All Muslim countries have a minimum age of 18 to get married
•-Girls Not Brides UNICEF
Child marriage in the U.S.
•Between 2000 and 2015, at least 207,459 Minors were married in the United States,This number is not ALL of them, only 41 states reported For perspective: In 2017 the population of Fort Wayne was 265,904
•87% of minors married were girls •13% of minors married were boys
1% were under 15 years old, 14% were 15 years old, 29% were 16 years old, 67% were 17 years old.
6 children were 12 years old
51 13 year old children got married
985 14 year old children got married
only 14% of minors married other minors, 86% married adults, 60% married adults 18-20 years old, 25% married adults 21-23 years old, 9% married 24-26 year olds, 4% married adults 27-29 and 3% married adults older than 29 years old.
I would like to point out that 1% of children married of the 207,459 reported were under 15 years old. That is 2074 children under 15 that got married to adults.
This data is not inclusive and does not represent ” spiritual marriages” (more on this in a future blog).
What can we do? Ban Child marriage..but since this seems to be a slow process..
Understand that making a child get married is abuse. A child having sex with someone when they are not old enough to consent is abuse. If you live in Indiana EVERYONE is a mandatory reporter. There are additional consequences for teachers, social workers, etc. You must report suspected abuse. It is not your job to prove it only report it.
Empathy and education. Teach mothers about the health and wellness benefits of delaying marriage and child birth. Understand why parents are marrying their children off. Lack of resources, protecting their virtue, they believe it is what’s best for their children. Educate them and provide them with other resources
Look for family patterns, if one child has been forced into a marriage often the other children will be too. In my case myself and both my siblings were forced into early marriages that had devastating effects on all of us.
Beware of “ marry your rapist” loopholes
Be more informed on child marriage
Hold a hearing before issuing a marriage license. Investigate if a crime has occurred that is now being covered up. Does the child even want to get married. Does the child know that they don’t have too. Are the resources to support the child if they say NO to the marriage.
Better collaboration between agencies, warm hand offs rather than cold calls. Avoid circular referrals.
Realize that these marriage happen very quickly, thus not triggering law enforcement or CPS intervention.