Child brides should not be forced to marry

On Sep. 9, the Daily Mail reported the death of an 8-year-old Yemeni girl on the first night of her arranged marriage to a 40-year-old man. Rawan suffered brutal internal injuries after her husband forced himself upon her. She died shortly after this horrific episode. This tragedy should remind the international community to heed the prevalence of child marriage in order to eradicate it.

Too Young to Wed, a movement started by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), sheds light upon the issue of child marriage by chronicling cases of child marriage through photography. Browsing the UNFPA’s website certainly comes as a shock to viewers: On its pages, innocent young girls with rosy cheeks and gentle eyes stand beside men maybe three or four times their ages. It’s nauseating.

A young girl named Tehani, a 6-year-old child bride, said to UNFPA, “I was so scared. I was shaking, shaking. And whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him.”

Tehani is six. Six is an age when children like Tehani should play hide and seek with their schoolmates. Age six is not the time to hide from a husband.

Child marriage robs these young people of futures. When they commit to their husbands, they also sacrifice careers in order to cater to the needs of their significant others. According to PBS, child marriage has other detrimental effects, such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and the increase in maternal and infant mortality.

Most people understand the outrageousness of child marriage. Yet expunging this sweeping phenomenon requires awareness and action. Educating more progressive societies of these problems allows others to see the importance of intervention. UNFPA has started this journey through their eye-catching photography exhibitions and online campaigns. Additionally, UNFPA plans to tackle the problem of child marriage through financial and academic support of potential child brides to help them escape their tragic situations.

But these organizations cannot fight on their own. In order to combat child marriage, the international community must pressure these countries to enact stronger laws, as well as take great care in enforcing those laws. According to the Daily Mail, though “a February 2009 law [in Yemen] set the minimum age for marriage at 17, it was repealed and sent back to parliament’s constitutional committee for review after some politicians called it un-Islamic.”

Enforcement is one of the greatest problems in other countries such as India and Nepal with child marriage cases. For example, though laws against child marriage exist, The Times of India reported that the Asian subcontinent is still responsible for 40 percent of the world’s child marriages. Evidently, these bureaucracies do not prioritize the protection of girls such as Tehani. Thus, society must task a larger force — particularly, the United Nations — in vigorously monitoring and prosecuting these criminals.

The Huffington Post interviewed 18-year-old Savita Singh, another victim of child marriage. Fortunately, Singh’s story hasn’t ended as tragically as most girls’, but her words really cut to the core of the problem.

She said to the Huffington Post, “This is my time to ‘eat and drink’ — my time to have fun, my time to be in my parents’ house. This is my time.”

She’s absolutely right. And it’s our time to fight for her rights.


Rini Sampath is a sophomore majoring in international relations. She is also the editorial director of the Daily Trojan 

Follow Rini on Twitter @RiniSampath 

4 replies
  1. Arafat
    Arafat says:


    Are you telling us white lies again?
    The British child brides: Muslim mosque leaders agree to marry girl of 12… so long as parents don’t tell anyone

    Two imams were prepared to officiate wedding of underage girl
    More than 1,000 of the 8,000 forced marriages of Britons each year are believed to involve girls of 15 or under

    By Ryan Kisiel

    PUBLISHED: 04:47 EST, 9 September 2012 | UPDATED: 18:53 EST, 9 September 2012

    MPs on Tuesday called for a controversial imam, or Muslim religious leader, to be banned from the Netherlands because of his support for the marriage of young girls.

    Mohamed al-Maghraoui caused a storm in Morocco in 2008 when he published a fatwa – or religious edict – saying it is acceptable for girls to marry at the age of nine. He is due to attend a five-day conference later this month to celebrate the opening of an extension to the As Soennah mosque in The Hague.
    A growing legion of Muslim men from the Mideast and Europe are scouring Syrian refugee camps in order to purchase underage girls, some as young as 12, as child brides, many of whom end up being sold for use in temporary “pleasure marriages.”

  2. Arafat
    Arafat says:


    So when your prophet, Mohammed, was 54 years old and consummated his 11th marriage (this one to Aisha) when she was only 9 years old you are telling us she was physically, mentally, psychologically fit to fully understand and embrace the act of fornicating with a man six times her age?

    You might as well try selling us a bridge if you think we’ll buy that one.


    Muslim Student Assoc.,

    What message does it send to Muslims when your prophet forces himself on prepubescent girls?

  3. Jane Roberts
    Jane Roberts says:

    You can actually do something about this by joining 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund. During the last 10 years I’ve spoken at least 3 times at USC. UNFPA fights the wordwide battle for gender equality, for reproductive health, for family planning and of course in the fight against child marriage. For these young girls this is pure terrorism. For 10 years we’ve been asking 34 million Americans for at least one dollar to take a stand for the women of the world. We’ve raised a lovely $4.25 million so far.

  4. msa
    msa says:

    any marriage that has element of force on either of the couple is un-Islamic, any marriage that any of the couple is not either physically, mentally, psychologically fit is un-Islamic, so if you want to fight against under age marriage please do it with sincererity of purpose, without infringing on the right of Muslims both male and females.

Comments are closed.