Ending child marriage is possible, but we need your help.
In the past decade, child marriage in South Asia has declined rapidly. Largely due to progress in India, a girl’s risk of getting married before she turns 18 in South Asia has dropped from almost 50% to about 30%. While this is good news, it must still be acknowledged that the number of girls being forced into early marriage is still unacceptably high. Despite most South Asian countries setting the legal age for marriage at 18, girls as young as 10 years old are still married off to, often, much older men.
Moreover, girls forced into early marriages are less likely to finish school and more likely to suffer from abuse and early pregnancies. Child marriages also serve to perpetuate poverty. Child marriage in South Asia is complex, very often underpinned by a variety of factors ranging from culture to poverty level to legal inconsistencies. The practice of child marriage often persists in South Asia where the culture is conservative and marriage is viewed as the most important event in a girl’s life whether it is to help their families in business dealings or to ease the burden of paying a heavy dowry – in South Asia where girls’ families are expected to pay a dowry, younger girls demand a cheaper price.
There is a long way to go in order to end child marriage, and we believe that progress must first start with the child and her family. Our Safe Spaces for Children campaign aims to educate girls about child marriage, how to identify right from wrong, and to also educate her parents and community on the dangers of child marriage. Ultimately, we try to build safe spaces for children within their community and, if called to so, provide young girls with safe spaces in our children’s homes. Furthermore, we support and invest in girls’ education. Our evening centres provide children with after-school study sessions where our staff members and volunteers help children with their school homework. We’ve seen that educated girls are less likely to be married early and have more control over their lives as they become more independent.
Therefore, although we have seen some improvements in the number of child marriages, there is still a ways to go to end the practice once and for all. There is much to learn from the efforts in place so far, and we believe in taking action to end child marriage. These young girls have the potential to be empowered, but they must be educated. You have the power and the opportunity to educate, love, and support these girls in South Asia. Join us in giving them the tools to change their lives for the better.