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Child marriages: Causes and implications

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By: Shewa Ram Suthar

According to the UNICEF report, 21 percent of girls are married in Pakistan before the age of 18 years and 3 percent are married before the age of 15 years. It is mostly in the backward areas of Umerkot and Tharparkar where people are deprived and make decisions for their lives.

They cannot calculate the future risks of underage marriage, they believe that girls are the burden of the house and nothing more.

After an early marriage, the victim faces many problems and issues in his or her routine life, they don’t even understand many basic responsibilities as a wife or husband.As per Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Pakistan has set a target that by 2030, it will eliminate child marriages and early marriages from Pakistan in any way, and there will be no early marriages in Pakistan.

These facts and figures are only connected to theory and the same in practical life, it will be difficult to dispel. We only rely on fake promises. One writer said, there is a big difference between commitment and benefit and here we are wasting our time on just fake dialogues and promises.

A few years ago Germany criminalized child marriage, Pakistan can also declare child marriage as a crime and legislate to protect under-aged girls & boys from forced or early marriages.

In Pakistan, there are many policy gaps, laws are not enforced due to non-compliance with the decision and follow up and at the grassroots level, local people are not aware of such laws and rights. This is really saddening and worrying to see the rising number of early marriages in Umerkot areas if we see in the backward areas the situation is even worst, many early marriage cases are not reported.

(on social media,) they do not even show up and a lot of lives are lost in this way. Due to (minor worries and problems) socio economic factors, they marry off their daughters at an early age. We all should think of those who are helpless and voiceless our timely support can make a real difference in their life lives. This issue needs serious attention from all stakeholders.

The backward community with special needs deserves to be mainstreamed. CWSA- Community World Service Asia with the support of Care International in Pakistan works in their project “Every Voice Counts” for transforming the lives of deprived communities through capacity building at the local level, district, and provincial level.

This organization has been working hard to prevent child marriage at the ground level in which they have come forward to (teach a lesson to) sensitize the villagers on behavior change (mental upbringing) and preventing their daughter from being bitten by a child or early marriage. The project not only works with the villagers but also sets up district-level monitoring committees to prevent the maximum number of child marriages.

Day by day we are witnessing cases of many suicides in Umerkot and nearby Thar areas. More than 60% of people committed suicide due to domestic violence, this figure has been received from the recent report of Thar and Umerkot areas, analyzed by the Association for Water, Applied Education, and Renewable Energy- AWARE.

The most common cause of domestic violence is an immature brain that is directly related to early or child marriage. (The brain of) a child will never think rationally because it he/she can not have the power of thinking, that is the strongest reason that is why suicides are (happening) are taking place day by day in Umerkot and Thar areas.

The current burning issue of COVID-19 has further misled these newly married child couples, who can’t even handle the loss of groceries and other issues at home.

When a girl is 15 or 16 years old and gets married, she first suffers from a mental illness or depression where she has a lot of responsibilities at an early age and she can’t control the pressure of the in-laws and a few days after her marriage a minor problem starts in their house and gradually it becomes a big problem and that is why domestic violence occurs in most of the victims of child marriages.

Depression has always been a problem among the people living in extreme poverty in the backward areas of Umerkot and Tharparkar.

There is an environment of stress and tension at the house since people can’t afford to have one meal per day. Since underage married couples are unable to resolve their socio economic issues a lot frustration and hopelessness leads to suicide. As long as we understand the issue and do not counsel it until then there will be no result found.

According to the research done by AWARE Organization, people who can not even resolve their domestic issues for their lives or rights committed suicide, and all their feelings and thoughts were hidden in their hearts and there are many people who did not want to take responsibility they got married at a very early age.

First, their debt (went) goes up so they get married to their daughters soon at an early age then after getting early marriage they all went under mental pressure and many issue grow up into domestic violence. And more than 80 % of (illiterate) girls are the victims of child marriages.

And they ruin their lives without thinking. The root cause of every major problem is the first small problem that suffers from consultation breaks and we have counseling gaps in our areas and that is why many suicides and child marriages are on the rise.

No, any issue or problem has arisen in the world. We do not share our small worries with others. So these same small problems get bigger and give rise to other big problems. The local NGOs are trying to address the issue in their capacity but these programs require support from the government.

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