Home violence, rape, pressured being pregnant and denial of entry to schooling are simply a number of the harrowing doable results of kid marriage, which UNICEF defines as “any formal marriage or casual union between a toddler below the age of 18 and an grownup or one other youngster. .” Little one marriage is a worldwide drawback that disenfranchises youngsters, disproportionately impacts younger women, and happens extra usually in communities with decrease socioeconomic standing or excessive ranges of poverty.
Whereas many are accustomed to the problem of kid marriage in growing nations, few are conscious of the legality and prevalence of kid marriage in america. In Michigan alone, greater than 5,400 youngsters have been married between 2000-2021, and 95% of these youngsters have been women married to grownup males, in response to an evaluation by the nonprofit Unchained at Final.
Present Michigan legislation legalizes marriage at ages 16 and 17 solely with parental consent, and youngsters below 16 can marry with parental and choose consent. Again and again, nevertheless, parental aspirations corresponding to monetary stability and the upkeep of deep-rooted social/cultural traditions (usually achieved by youngster marriage) are prioritized over the kid’s well-being and denigrates the kid’s autonomy.
As a younger lady of South Asian descent, listening to the horror tales of youngsters of my age and background who have been pressured to undergo a lifetime of mindless abuse and childbearing made me grateful to have the ability to dwell in america.
Nevertheless, primary human rights are nonetheless not assured right here? How can youngsters below 16 be banned from driving however be legally married to an grownup? How does our authorized system distinguish between parental consent and coercion? Why can we criticize different nations for failing to repeal archaic legal guidelines when youngsters are being victimized on our personal soil?
We should set up a standard set of pure, non-negotiable human rights, beginning with the best of youngsters to get pleasure from their childhood and be free from the extraordinarily dangerous psychological, bodily and well being dangers related to pressured marriage.
We should be certain that no extra youngsters are persecuted and subjected to a lifetime of exploitation and oppression. This effort begins with educating our friends in regards to the steps we will take to completely ban youngster marriage.
A invoice to finish youngster marriage was heard for the primary time within the Michigan legislature final yr. Urge your legislators to vote to finish youngster marriage in Michigan in 2023.
Aanya S. is a Metro Detroit Excessive College scholar who’s obsessed with public well being, coverage and well being analysis. Working as UNICEF’s Nationwide Youth Consultant, she works with younger activists throughout the nation to make sure the well-being of youngsters world wide.