Child marriage in India
When she became pregnant at the age of 12 years, her 70-year-old husband filed for divorce!
The story tells that the night he took me, he raped me. He said he had bought me and that he could do whatever he wanted with me - "I have given your parents money, I can use you as long as I want. Shut up!"
Indian Sangeeta Manera Bagle was only twelve years old when her parents sold her into a forced marriage with a 70 year old man. She says that the "so-called wedding night" was pure torture. I have no education, and did not understand what was going on. I was just a child, she says. She further says that the man kept her locked into a room without a window, and that he used her for sex for two months, until she became pregnant. Then he divorced her over the phone. Now she lives with her daughter she had with the 70-year old man, her mother, and two other people in a tiny room in a poor district in the Indian city of Mumbai. The mother says that she sold her daughter because her father was an alcoholic and that they needed the money. We thought we could buy a small house for the money. We thought that both we and our daughter could have a better life. It did not happen, says the mother!
When Sangeeta was abandoned as a twelve year old girl and pregnant, she was so upset that she tried to commit suicide. She survived and has since worked to prevent women and children from being sold into forced marriage. . I hope no one has to go through the pain I have felt, she says.
Young girls are sold by their parents to tourists in India
In India, there are hundreds of similar cases. There is a whole industry around the sale and forced marriage of children, mainly to older tourists, according to Indian media. Agents from this industry approaches poor families and ask them to buy their children. Then agents in several different countries in Asia and in the Middle East find clients who are interested in buying a child. The clients then travel to the Indian city to see and choose the child they want the most. A religious clergyman, who also participates in human trafficking, then issues fake wedding papers and divorce papers with a future date. This way, clients can use the children until they get bored, and then disappear. Mumbai police tells there are hundreds of similar cases in this city alone.
15 million child marriages worldwide
Child marriages take place in all parts of the world. It goes across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. It affects mostly girls in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but there are child brides in all regions of the world. Child marriage is today most common in developing countries. There, one in three girls are married off before they are 18 and one in seven before they are 15. In some places, the girls can be as young as eight years old.
Child marriage in the world
- • Child marriage is defined as marriage where at least one of the parties are under 18 years of age.
- • It is a violation of human rights, and is one of the most serious human rights challenges of our time.
- • Child marriage occurs in all regions, and is a global problem.
- • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 39,000 girls are married off every day.
- • The UN estimates that this applies to around 14.2 million girl children annually. Some children are as young as five years old.
- • Estimates from the World Health Organization shows that in the period from 2011 to 2020, 140 million girls will be married off. Of the 140 million, 50 million will be under 15 years of age.
- • In the UN's sustainability goals from 2015, one of the points is to abolish child marriage by 2030.
It is not uncommon for money to be involved in child marriage. Especially in areas of poverty, and in cultures where there is a general perception that girls are less valuable than boys, as in India. In the NGO environments, there is also a clear perception that girls are sold to foreigners in India, and therefore it is not surprising that men who want young girls, and are willing to pay for it, connects themselves to poverty in order to find what they are looking for.
The fight against child marriage is on the UN agenda, and the organization aims to abolish it by 2030.
Child marriage robs children of their childhood. They are forced into a situation for which they are neither mentally nor physically mature. All child marriages are forced marriages, and coercion also means forced intercourse, defined as rape. However, most parents want the best for their children. We are talking about societies characterized by poverty and inherited structures, but it is entirely possible to prevent it. In India, there is also a tradition for young people to get involved in trying to stop this. It's a lot about parents should understand that educating girls is a better approach to economic growth for the whole family, than the money they make from selling the girls.
In India, it will not be right to categorize all marriages that involve money as human trafficking, because in a country like India it is often common for money to be given in connection with weddings, regardless of whether coercion is involved or not. In cases where parents sell their children to older men, however, there is talk of human trafficking.
Child marriage is prohibited under Indian law, and parents or others who force children into marriage can be punished.
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