This article is centered on the horrendous and detrimental reality of child marriage. Inhumane and abusive as it may depict our thinking and imagery of it, and by practice and nature, this reality remains prevalent in some nations around the world, specifically in Asian countries like Indonesia and India.
It is a cultural custom, norm and tradition that has been passed on from one generation to the other. This practice is composed of a legal marriage or informal union, wherein the involved parties are both children, that are under 18 years old.
Culturally speaking, early marriage is far more closely related to being fixed on the perspective of girls, in comparison to boys.
In some cases, a younger girl is married to an older boy or man. In this article, we will be looking closely at the 4 different points of views and takeaways of renowned personalities, that share the horrible and elusive future of this kind of marriage.
Payzee Mahmod, an empowered woman, was born in Kurdistan. Payzee is known worldwide as an IKWRO Ambassador and Campaigner for the Kurdish community. She uses her voice to speak out as a survivor, and not as a victim of a devastating chapter in her life, and takes it as an experience that revolved around the horrendous reality of child marriage.
At present, Mahmod as a Kurdish immigrant that was raised in London, is thriving at present with her successful career in the fashion industry. Her advocacy as a changemaker is centered on empowering women to live on a mission that will put an end to the harmful practices of child marriage.
According to Mahmod, child marriage is a presumptive nightmare that any woman can be involved in and that should be escaped by her immediately. Living a normal life as a teenager who spends the entirety of her time, pursuing her education and idolizing pop stars, she experienced such a tragic portion in her life as young as she was, with the age of 16.
She was coerced by her very own parents into marrying an older man. Because it was a forced marriage, she lacked the knowledge, power and language to be in rampant protest to that marriage. She was in high hopes that a hero would come into her life, in the person of a professional adult that would help her in intervening and stopping the marriage, but sadly, it did not happen.
The marriage still pushed through and she ended up performing acts of rebellion and self-harm that directed to her escape.
The death of her sister Banaz in April 2006 which was brutally done by his own father, uncle and three other Kurdish man, was due to her escape from abusive child marriage, motivated her to do something that would appease the death of her sister.
The imprisonment of the people involved in the crime inspired her to be a motivational speaker in the premise that no one deserves to suffer as she and her sister did.
In conclusion, she believes accordingly that the laws that govern child marriage should be changed in a direction wherein it should be considered a crime. This intent of hers has already reached international communities worldwide.
Secondly, we shall rotate the spotful limelight to another empowered woman, in the person of Mercy Akuot.
Mercy Akuot is a native of South Sudan, in the northeastern section of Africa. Her family fled to Kenya when a conflict transpired in South Sudan. At present, she is a musical artist, and at the same time, an activist and advocate for women and young girl’s rights. She takes an in-depth of encouragement, motivation, inspiration and driving force, from her personally inevitable experience of child marriage, when she was still a teenager, at the age of 15.
According to Akuot, child marriage is a cultural practice that would cause the impediment of women, to decide for themselves, as well as a barrier to their liberty of loving someone freely. Her world rotated in a 360-degree motion when she was informed one day by her dad, as she went home after school, that her educational schooling days were over, because she was about to get married to an older man, who she knew from the very start, was her uncle.
The precaution of being told that she had no choice and that she had to obey the practiced tradition and custom caused her world to crumble at that moment. As a response, Mercy fought back in disagreement to the decisive motive of her father.
Despite her firm response of saying NO, the marriage still pushed through. In accordance to her experience that circulated in bombardment, Mercy never blamed her parents for what happened to her, but she placed all the blame on all of the negative cultural practices that caused hampering oppression to women, specifically to the women of Africa.
Eventually, Mercy escaped the forced union and pushed through with her advocacy for women’s rights by supervising empowerment programs that are centered on the benefit of women and girls.
Thus, she takes on this story of survival with her, as she talks in widely internationally reachable platforms, like the TEDx event and conference, to inspire women to never be a victim of child marriage.
Third, we shall rotate the lens of the spotlight, to another empowered woman, in the person of Agnes Babugura.
Agnes Babugura is a native of Johannesburg, South Africa. Presently, Agnes is an academic professor at Monash University in South Africa with her PhD in Environmental Science. The field of environmental science is focused on the core of social vulnerability, and an adaptation to climate variability and change.
Because of this field wherein she earned her doctorate degree with, she has extensively gathered a summary of working experiences that involved national governments, as well as international development organizations such as the following: United Nations Development Program, Heinrich Boll Foundation, United Nations Environmental Program, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank, World Vision and International Labor Organization.
Her works were centralized on a variety of developmental issues that the whole world faces today.
In addition to these working platforms that she has pursued, Babugura is highly passionate with issues that revolved on the tenets of gender and climate change, gender mainstreaming, poverty and development, sustainable agricultural development, food security, gender and the green economy, project evaluation, and most importantly, climate change and social vulnerability and adaptation.
According to Agnes Babugura, child marriage is a calvary of sufferings and sorrows that no woman deserves to undergo in her lifetime. She believes that, if drastic measures are taken into action at the present time, by all of the nations around the world in unison, child marriage will definitely have its end.
On the other hand, girls and women should stand up for their rights and unite as one in fighting strongly for their own rights of living a life that they truly deserve. A life that is fulfilling, dignified and paradoxically, transformative, not resulting in being a child bride.
She considers the TEDx event and conference as a platform that promotes women empowerment that leads to the direction of not stopping them to achieve the best version of themselves.
Fourth and lastly, is a finishing touch on the spotlight of child marriage, in the person of another empowered woman named Alinafe Botha.
Alinafe, is a product of a polygamous family since his father married a fourth wife wherein her mother separated from his father while she was pregnant of her. She was born in Malawi, Southeastern Africa.
According to Botha, child marriage can be ended if women are educated. The sad reality in Malawi is that, 18% of its girls, are the only ones who attend secondary school. Inevitable experiences such as the death of her grandfather who contracted HIV/AIDS, living with her grandmother who was ill at the moment, and her own mother who remarried and bore two children, Alinafe did not stop persevering in her life just to help herself and also her two siblings.
Her experience of being forced to child marriage at the age of 12 by her uncle, who promised that her education will be paid for, did not stop her to advocate and campaign for women empowerment, most specifically to those who are clumped and about to enter into a child marriage.
The sad reality is that Alinafe’s sisters who were from the polygamous families dropped out of school and got married at the age of six and seven. Despite these forced events, she did not pave the way for it to happen to her as well.
The TEDx event and conference served as her platform to address her personal view that little girls should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and should not be imprisoned in a situation wherein they are forced to marry and love someone at a young age.
In conclusion of these four points of view from four empowered women, child marriage should be stopped, ended and abolished and in general, be listed into the hideous crimes of humanity.