Social Question

Cupcake's avatar

What can be done to protect girls from the fate of "child bride"?

Asked by Cupcake (11462 points ) September 14th, 2009

This was particularly disturbing to me tonight.

As a woman still dealing with repercussions of pregnancy following sexual assault at 15, my heart is broken when I hear of such situations.

What can you and I do to protect girls?
What should parents do?
What should our schools do?
What should our health care system do?
What should our government do?

Thoughts?

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15 Answers

laureth's avatar

Educate. Educate the women, so they expect better. This seems to happen way more in places where women don’t have resources on their own and have to rely on their father and then their husband, which makes them something like chattel. If they have a way of gaining even a modicum of independence, they often garner respect as well.

Of course, the converse argument is that their society depends on keeping women in their place, and to dislodge that plank would bring the whole culture tumbling down. This is also the argument against interfering with things like female genital mutilation.

Westerners cannot just march in and tell them what to do. and how to “clean up their messy culture.” That will only make them cling to it even harder in the face of imperialism. It has to come from within. We can only suggest.

We can also provide some help like this – microloans. Women are more likely than men to use microloans (sometimes just a few dollars) to help their families and children. It can work wonders in making women more independent and giving them dignity and more of a say-so in their lives through economic power.

justus2's avatar

Educate our children that if they want ot have sex go ahead but to be careful and protect themselves from pregnancies and diseases. Quit telling our children how much trouble they will be in if they have sex and making them so un confortable to talk to us about it and ask questions. We should make them feel like we want them to ask questions about having sex and stuff, and let them know we will always give them helpful info on protection

JLeslie's avatar

Education. The article touched on the idea that the families want to get rid of the girls because hey are a financial burden. As I look around the world it seems to me the more educated an prosperous a society is, the more likely they are to take control of their fertility/birth rates. And, the more educated the less likely to treat women like property.

JLeslie's avatar

You mean in America? I think of child bride as young bride, not pregnant bride. I need you to elaborate on your question.

rooeytoo's avatar

I live in the midst of Australian aboriginal culture. It too “promises” young girls to the more powerful old men. Sometimes as young as 12 and 14. And or course, they immediately become pregnant. White man’s law tries to prosecute this tradition but the old men who benefit and politicians who want the vote say no, it is their culture and it must be protected.

A lot of sins are committed in the name of culture, including infant sexual abuse, domestic violence, alcohol fueled violence and abuse, the list goes on. Children can’t be removed because of the fear of another “stolen generation.” It is a hell of a problem and after having watched it for 5 years, I still don’t know a sure fire cure.

But for young women who are not laboring under the curse of their culture, I agree that education and self-esteem and self worth must all be impressed upon them. They must realize their own innate value. Make being an independent woman a proud achievement. Teach them it is not necessarily to dress provocatively, respect themselves too much for that. No matter how far we have come, the idea that it is a man’s world and women are second in line still seems to pervade. Young males have to be raised in a culture that supports this as well.

Jeruba's avatar

There’s hope in that same story:

——
The issue of Yemeni child brides came to the forefront in 2008 with 10-year-old Nujood Ali.

She was pulled out of school and married to a man who beat and raped her within weeks of the ceremony.

To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi—the first time in her life—to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.

After a well-publicized trial, she was granted a divorce.
——

That was one brave little girl. She must have had a very strong sense of herself that had come to her from somewhere. She knew that she did not deserve to be treated like that, and she must have also had faith in her country’s system of justice. Whatever gave her the strength to do what she did, there in her own culture, her peers around the world need the same thing.

It was also a brave taxi driver, and maybe even a brave judge. The act of one person can make a difference, but it usually takes the support of others.

MissAusten's avatar

Marrying off young girls, selling young girls into prostitution (Read “The Blue Notebook” if you can stomach it), is a fact of life in some places. I think @laureth has it exactly right though—you can’t drag people kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Ideally, educating girls and women, educating their families as to their value, and aiding organizations that provide resources, aid, and even rescue to these girls will hopefully, in the long run, stamp out these practices. It’s a form of slavery, in my opinion, which history shows us can be stopped. I do know that slavery is still practiced in some areas, but considering how it was a global practice in the not-so-distant past, I’d say progress has been made.

Cupcake's avatar

@JLeslie – the question really came from the news article about the 12 year old girl who was given into marriage (and ultimately gave her life). After reading it, I felt helpless. I felt so far away. So I guess the question took a turn to be “what can I do” and “what can be done for all girls”.

I was thinking along the lines of teaching self esteem and self efficacy, teaching young girls about birth control, teaching children how to be assertive and how to use their resources (like the 10 year old did that @Jeruba mentioned).

I was also thinking of how to educate families (adults and children) how to use talents and develop skills that can be utilized for the family’s financial benefit (thus eliminating the perceived need to receive large dowrys for young girls).

What role does the education of girls play? In what do girls need to be educated? In what do boys need to be educated? Is it more useful to educate children or adults, or do both need to occur?

While marrying off young girls probably doesn’t happen in the same way in the US, there are still many atrocities committed against girls (my mom has had child patients who were given to drug dealers in exchange for drugs… essentially sold into prostitution).

And (here in the US) what can John and Jane Doe do from their suburban neighborhood? Volunteer? Donate to charity? Pray? Post links on their facebook pages?

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Question for the woman, a 12 and a 14 year old, one could say that’s only two years, but, that’s a lot of maturing, right? Point being, 16 is legal age still in many countries in the states.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake There is a lot of crappy stuff here in the good ol’ USA. I worry more about the single teenage moms, rather than child brides. Goodness knows there are child brides though, but I think that is more rare, seen in religious cults. Unless you mean just young people getting married young because they are in love, but I don’t think that is what we are talking about here.

Drugs are a big nightmare that contributes to girls doing destructive things to themselves.

My solution is pay teenagers to get decent grades in school and pass random drug tests, and give a girl an extra $1000 for getting through high school without having a baby. Or, we can ship kids off to boarding schools to get them away from horrible drug ridden neighborhoods. I’m only half kidding.

@bumwithablackberry 14 is still very young to me. 16 is young, but I think a young woman has a better idea of her own body by 16. Are you referring to sex or marriage?

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Both, sort of synonymous in the pretext of this discussion. People have made some comparative valuations regarding abuses directed at this most vulnerable class, if you ask me this subject is volatile, potentially, sort of makes one of my testicles retreat back to where it descended. I think your right, there is a vast exponential difference between those ages. I get accused of playing devil’s advocate, but with this subject, I think a global and cultural understanding would be more beneficial. Oh, and I think where Islamic law is concerned no amount of money, would change that.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t think cultural understanding makes it any more acceptable or palatable.

And I don’t know many 14 or 16 year old boys or girls who are ready for marriage and parenthood despite the fact that it is legal in some states in the USA and commonplace in some cultures.

A 14 year old I know just had a baby in a promised marriage with a 40ish man. The baby is being passed from aunty to aunty or anyone else who will hold it. The mother is a lost soul. Not good for baby or mom.

holden's avatar

I think the most equitable and reasonable thing to do in these circumstances is to shoot those who would rape a child.

Leanne1986's avatar

@justus2 I get what you are saying, we should be teaching girls to protect themselves if they are going to have sex regardless of age but in this case the majority of the girls are raped so it doesn’t matter how open we are with youngsters about sex and protection etc it should be the people comitting these crimes against such young girls that need to be educated and punished.

JLeslie's avatar

@bumwithablackberry Well, I think that age is a little tricky. Puberty does have some influence on the readiness of a girl to be sexual obviously. Typically by 16 it has been 2–4 years that a girl has had to become accustomed to her new more sexual body. Also, besides puberty is the culture around you. I started school young. As a teenager I was more my grade than my age. I lost my virginity when I was 15, but my friends and all of the people I was with were 16. It was not obvious in any way that I was younger than them. 16 for a girl who wants to have sex with someone she is dating is fine with me, but being forced is awful. In cultures where everyone is getting married at 16, I guess mentally the girls are more prepared than an American teenager. But 12 or 14 is horrible and ridiculous to me no matter what culture. Many cultures have arranged marriages, but the girls are able to say no. But, to force a girl to marry and have sex with some man is rape. It is a violent abusive act, and I would go as far to say that it is akin to slavery also.

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