Let’s talk about child marriage
Child marriage is any formal or informal union where one or both parties (people who are involved in the marriage) are under the age of 18. Here’s a bit more about child marriage:
Is it legal?
Child marriage in South Africa is essentially illegal because the minimum age for marriage is 18. No child is allowed to be forced into marriage. However, child marriage still remains an issue in South Africa because of the loophole in. For example, in cases where one or both people are under 18, there would need to have consent from parents for the marriage to be legalised.
This doesn’t mean that it is right though. Young women around the world are given permission by parents or guardians to get married in their young teenage years when that shouldn’t be happening at all.
Disadvantages of child marriage
Even though child marriage affects both young girls and boys, girls are more at risk of being forced into being young brides and that comes with a lot of disadvantages. Here are a few:
Risk getting STIs
If you’re a child in a marriage, chances are your partner will have a lot of say with regards to how things should be done - especially if they are much older than you, and that includes sex. The lack of condom use increases your chances of contracting STIs; including HIV.
Miss out on school
A lot of times, children who are married are expected to drop out of school so they can start building families, which is completely unfair because every child has a right to get educated. When young people miss out on education, they then also miss out on economic empowerment later in life because they won’t get access to good paying jobs.
Falling pregnant young
Being a young parent is not easy (especially for teenage girls) because that additional responsibility when you’re young (and still growing yourself) might make you miss out on your life, especially if there is no support for you as a parent.
Risk for abuse
Young girls are more at risk of abuse by older partners. One of the main reasons why older men marry or date young women is because it gives them control. Adults have more power over young people and older men who date young women take advantage of that.
It’s just wrong, period.
Getting married is a decision that even older adults have a hard time making because it is a decision that can affect your whole life. Can you imagine how much harder it is for someone who is young and doesn’t even want to get married? A life they don’t want is basically forced on them and that is never okay, for anyone.
Nobody has the right to force you into marriage by violating your consent and sacrificing your freedom because you’re a minor.
I am #DoneWithSilence when it comes to child marriages. If you are too, post about it on your social media platforms and in the comments below using #DoneWithSilence
Remember, if you or a friend need help or advice, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).
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