When people from the United States think of child marriage, they often think of developing countries.
Child marriage is defined by UNICEF as “both formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy lives with a partner as if married before the age of 18. An informal union is one in which a couple live together for some time, intending to have a lasting relationship, but do not have a formal civil or religious ceremony.”
Usually, the child in question is a girl, and it’s true that poverty and religious tradition play into whether or not it’s legal or acceptable in any given country.
The countries with the highest observed rates of child marriages below the age of 18 are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, and the Central African Republic, with a rate above 60 percent. Niger, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali, and Ethiopia were the countries with child marriage rates greater than 20 percent below the age of 15.
When YouTube star Coby Persin realized that many states in the U.S. have legal loopholes that allow child marriage, he set up a dramatic wedding scene in Times Square between a 12-year-old girl and a 65-year old man. Laws vary state by state, but with parental permission, children as young as 12 can be married in our own country.
People were outraged by the scene, and that means Persin’s plan worked.
Countries in Europe like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium “tolerate” child marriages even though there are bans, and in the United Kingdom, child brides are sometimes smuggled in.
It’s clear that this is not just a third-world problem. Child marriage prevents girls from completing their education, affects their health, and correlates with high domestic violence rates.
Fortunately, organizations like UNICEF and Amnesty International are working to end the practice of child marriage. Donate or volunteer today to make a difference and share articles like this one to raise awareness.
Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/child-marriage/