Principal, Vidyasthali School
Child slavery can come in many guises, whether its children who are forced to beg by others for profit through violence, those who have to work to pay their parents’ debts.But we rarely think of slavery when it comes to child marriage.
The impact of marriage on children’s education, and their physical and psychological health is increasingly highlighted. Nevertheless, child marriage remains a widely culturally accepted practice in many corners of the globe. Latest figures suggest that 11 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 worldwide were married before reaching the age of 15.2 Girls who are forced to marry are committed to being in slavery like marriages for the rest of their lives.
Girls who are victims of servile marriages experience domestic servitude, sexual slavery and suffer from violations to their right to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence. Child marriage is a violation of all the rights of the child. It forces children, particularly girls, to assume responsibilities for which they are often physically and psychologically not prepared for. Girls who are forced to marry face a life of violence in the home where they are physically and sexually abused, suffer from inhuman and degrading treatment and ultimately slavery.
Early marriage also impacts on girls’ right to education, health, and participate in the decisions that affect them. Girls who marry early often drop out of school, significantly reducing their ability to gain skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and to earn an income.
An obstacle to girls’ and women’s empowerment, it also hinders their ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Child brides are more likely to get pregnant at an early age and, as a result, face higher risk of maternal death and injury due to early sexual activity and childbearing.
Let us unite for their empowerment when they themselves can raise their voices and say firmly, No girl should be forced to marry. No girl should be committed to servile marriage, domestic servitude and sexual slavery. No girl should suffer from violations to their right to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence. NOT A SINGLE ONE.