Why is child marriage bad?

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

Raise awareness

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.







Published by Genevieve Meyer

Genevieve Meyer always felt like a throwaway​ child - a lost cause that no one wanted to invest anything into. "When I was married off at 15 that feeling was solidified. People knew it was going to happen. I even asked for help - a place to live, someone to intervene - but no one rescued me. I was just a 'poor white trash girl' with a difficult, mentally-ill mother and no one gave my being married off to a 42-year-old man a second thought." Child marriage is currently legal in all but one state in the U.S. The repercussions of this reality are real - domestic violence, inability to complete education, lack of job skills - all leading to being trapped in the marriage. Meyer has lived in the Fort Wayne area for 14 years. She recently earned her MBA, following completion of an undergraduate degree at Purdue Fort Wayne. She manages a mental health facility in Fort Wayne which helps children and their families heal from trauma. Driven by her own story of trauma, she works to advocate and educate about the harmful effects of child marriage. She lives in the country with her husband of 12 years, and together they are raising 4 children and several animals.

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