By: Farah Naz Baloch
Child marriage is one of the major issues which has taken place and victimized many young lives in Baloch society. Early marriage is usually considered as forced marriage where a child has to play the role of a mother. It is practiced in our society where a young child below the age of eighteen (18) is married to an adult man.
The (UNCRC) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child defines child as every human being below the age of 18 years, and acknowledges the primary role of parents and the family in the care and protection of children. Under most of the laws young people are recognized as adults at the age of 18 but emerging science about brain development suggests that most people do not reach full maturity until age 25.
However in psychology, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This is learned rather than instinctive. But unfortunately in our society the child is imprisoned in the field of responsibilities in early ages where she doesn’t have idea of self-awareness but has been put under huge responsibilities to hold the heavy burden upon her, which is very much hard for her to carry on at this age.
A young gir who has to struggle to understand her own anatomy is forced to have a complex relationship with full of responsibilities for which neither her body nor her innocent mind is ready. The domestic and marital responsibilities are imposed upon her by her parents and society. At this stage she is not able to decide about her marriage and not aware of those consequences that comes after marriage. However the causes of child marriages are due to many reasons. They can be cultural, social and economic which affect the lives of children.
Poverty is one of the main causes of child marriage .poor people sell their daughters to escape the cycle of poverty. The girls of poor families are twice as likely to be married early as that of higher income groups.
Child marriage is mostly one of the cultural products in Baloch society that threatens the health and life of girls. Family honour forces family to marry girls at an early age, because from the beginning this process is going on traditionally so they follow their ancestors and their rules as a tradition .but with the rapid development of this world which has been changed into a global village has brought different ideas and thoughts on human mind with new achievements as well. Than how those unsuccessful rules would be followed to maintain violence .the negative rules should be flourished in order to escape the burden of difficulties.
Early marriage devalues girls in the pretext of social and cultural traditions. They remain disadvantaged physically, educationally, psychologically and economically and keep on suffering for whole of their life.
According to UNICEF report on child marriage and the law, the discrimination often manifest itself in the form of domestic violence, deprivation, of food, lack of access to information ,education healthcare.
High rates of child marriage prevent significant progress toward development goals and global efforts. Child marriage takes place mostly in the pretext of illiteracy and gender inequality. It almost challenges the basic rights of children to education, health, protection and development. Education is the main weapon to face various dangerous issues and self-protection .the girls with low level of education suffer greater risk of social isolation and domestic violence than more educational women who merry as adults.
As says Napoleon Bonaparte “Educating a girl/woman is educating a whole nation which means she is the developer of the nation who schools her children further for having better knowledge as they are the bright future of the nation. But if the same woman does not have better sense of knowledge then how can she train her children .so due to such step the whole nation will be influenced. Even though changes come from an individual that makes up the society but if the same individual does not have that much awareness of creating a better environment, then how the improvement of the nation will be possible without taking out the deficiencies that cause dangerous problems. In this way early marriage is one of the many social problems that cause the development of the nation in the real sense.
Early marriage has pressurized many young lives into domestic violence .it is the time where she is supposed to have fun with playing games and getting proper education with full attention to her study rather than domestic duties because this time they are neither mentally nor physically prepared for the responsibilities.
However complication from pregnancy and child birth are the main causes of death in early age. The girls pregnant in early ages have five times greater chance of dying as compared with pregnant in their greater. The young girls who lack power, status and maturity are often subjugated to domestic violence.
One of the big issues is the large age gaps between the child and husband which make her more vulnerable to domestic violence. Age difference increases the power of control over his wife. A young girl will have less maturity than that of a well-developed age person who has better experience of life. Their thoughts and feelings can hardly match with each other, so how they are supposed to have successful relationships. Imposing a marriage partner at this age is compromising the fundamental right.
However marriageable age falls within the jurisdiction of individual member. UNICEF report claims 70% of girls in Pakistan are married before age of 18 and the rural areas are more affected than their urban counterpart.
The object should be to eliminate the special evil which had the potentialities of danger to the life and health of a female child who could not withstand the stress of married life and to avoid early death of such girls. The issue of poverty and illiteracy cannot be eradicated instantly and require comprehensive planning and policy. The biggest eradication can be educating the children which are very much useful to prevent violence. Extended opportunities for childhood learning and education offer appropriate support to families and children and seek to have all children recognized as blessing and valuable members of society rather than economic burden.
Published in The Balochistan Point on March 21, 2017