Twelve is Too Young for a Bridal Shower
Saturday, October 11 was the United Nations International Girl Child Day. The International Girl Child Day was established on December 19, 2011, and on its second year of observance, this day will be celebrating “innovating girl’s education.” According to Save the Children, an international organization dedicated to bettering the lives of children around the globe, 62 million girls around the globe are not in school. Because of this, last year they helped 7 million girls gain an education through their education programs offered in return, 43% of girls participating are likely to continue their schooling.
Although this year is dedicated to girl’s education, a lot of different aspects go in to a girl’s ability to gain an education especially in an under-developed nation. This leads me to the disturbing idea of child brides. Save the Children states, “100 million girls are projected to become child brides in the next ten years.” Another organization, that is the result of partnership between over 400 different international organizations, Girls Not Brides, states that 1 in 3 girls in developing nations will be married before they are 18, and 1 in 9 girls are married before they are 15. In Niger alone, 75% of girl children will be married before they are 18.
The rate of child brides contracting HIV/AIDS is significantly higher because they have not received the sex education necessary for their health. On the Girls Not Brides website, they write that child brides are more likely to drop out of school, die in child birth and remain in poverty for the rest of their lives. 70% of the world’s poorest population are females. By becoming child brides, it means the end of their childhood and their ability to learn the necessary skills to help them escape poverty and further themselves. Child marriage is a major barrier in helping girls receive higher education within developing nations.
While procrastinating earlier this week, I was distracting my self by various BuzzFeed articles and I stumbled upon one that particularly stuck out to me. “Norway’s ‘First Child Wedding’ Is Actually A Viral Campaign To Stop Child Marriage,” written by Alan White discusses how Norway is making the advances to bring attention the to tragedy that is child brides and marriage. It all started with a blog (http://stoppbryllupet.blogg.no/) created by 12-year-old Thea, a soon to be “child bride” in Norway who is set to marry her 37-year-old fiancé, Geir, on Saturday, October 11. That day also happens to be the International Day of the Girl Child. Ironic it seems that a young 12-year-old is set to marry on the day celebrating her childhood. Thea writes about how she wanted to continue her schooling and become a veterinarian, but now post engagement she sees that as a struggle to achieve. She writes about how she is worried to “do it” with her 37-year-old fiancé, Geir. She writes about how she is nervous about having to take care of herself and her future children after her mom yelled at her for not cleaning or packing for her move to Geir’s. These are terrifying things for a child to experience, let alone it is disturbing to think of a 37-year-old man marrying a 12-year-old newly pubescent girl.
The blog quickly became the most visited website in Norway the day that it was released, provoking many Norwegians to report the impending child marriage to officials. However, in an unexpected plot twist, this viral online marketing campaign is actually a hoax to gather attention for the organization, Plan International. Plan International is a Norwegian organization aiming to provide mentors for young girls in various developing countries via donations to aid with their education, health and most importantly help them avoid becoming another percentage point as a child bride. Plan International says that 39,000 child brides are married every day, your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of a persons life, not a day of misery as it is for so many scared child brides.
The goal of this campaign and blog is to stop the wedding. Plan International aims to gather enough attention to the reality of child brides through their brilliant marketing strategy and to help open the eyes of observers around the world. By helping to stop the “wedding” on Saturday, October 11, we are helping to stop or at least decrease the weddings of innocent and frightened child brides. According to the United Nation’s, forcing a child into marriage no matter their sex is a violation of basic human rights, unfortunately there are many underdeveloped nations who do not believe as such. We are lucky to live in a nation with laws preventing forced marriage, such as the statutory rape laws and as recent as 2013, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. This act specifically works to create a strategies to prevent child marriage across the nation and globe. It is our duty as global citizens to aid those in need, and these child brides are in need.
Returning back to the International Day of the Girl Child, it is important to look at the situation as a whole. Because many girl children lack education across the globe, when uneducated the likelihood of them becoming child brides increases drastically, the likelihood of them suffering in poverty is imminent, and their access to health care or even knowledge about their personal health and body decreases significantly. As females, no, I correct myself, as humans, male and female it is our moral duty to look at this international issue and question ourselves, is this really how global society should be interacting in 2014? The answer is no, we have to recognize the severity of the problem even though it is not directly impacting us in developed nations. As citizens of developed nations who have access to education, healthcare and most importantly funds it is necessary for us to take a stand for those who cannot.
I leave you with this infographic from Girls Not Brides, I’ll let it speak for itself.
To donate to Plan International, click on the link “Become a Sponsor Girl” provided in Thea’s blog.
For further reading on the tragedy that is child marriage, take a look at these websites. What happens next for child brides and girl children around the world is in our generation’s hands.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SIOBHAN BRENNANSiobhan Brennan is a senior at Fairfield University pursuing a degree in Communication and Sociology & Anthropology. She had her fifteen minutes of fame in the second grade when I was on the PBS show Arthur . . . and she is still waiting for her big return to stardom (dream big, ladies!!) Nothing gets Siobhan going like a good Instagram filter or a witty and charming twitter hashtag, which is why she believes Social Media is the marketing of the future. Siobhan has been known to crush an entire Netflix series in days, with her record being the entire Game of Thrones series in one week. Her idol since the beginning has been Liz Lemon and in true Liz Lemon fashion, yes, she would ALWAYS prefer to be bought mozzarella sticks than a drink at a bar. Read more about and from the author: Siobhan’s WiLab Profile