JAKARTA – Every year, 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, that equates to 23 child brides every minute of every day.If you are still not impressed, count to two. One. Two.In the time it took to do that, another girl became a child bride. Nine more became child brides in the time it took to finish this paragraph.The Problem of Child Marriage
Indonesian lawmaker, Eva Kusuma Sundari, summed up the fundamental, global problem of child marriage, saying,
“It is like living in hell when a child gets married and made to carry another child. They lose their freedom, their rights to education and their future. It kills their dreams, especially for the girls who cannot continue school.”
Girls Not Brides adds that child brides are exposed to much more significant risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse, and death in childbirth. Poverty, lack of education, cultural practices, and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice.
The Problem of Child Marriage in Indonesia
Sundari shared her frustration with Reuters. Although the Constitutional Court approved raising the minimum age for marriage, the ruling had no substance. The proposed legislation did not include a specific age, and the motion allowed the Constitution Court to take three years to decide.
In the meantime, no additional action has been taken even though there is an element of bipartisan support. Sundari has been unable to convince her fellow legislators to move on the motion – even though Indonesia is now listed among the ten counties with the highest number of child brides.
She told Reuters, “It’s as if we didn’t care.”
The Problem of Child Marriage Around the World
The problem globally is precisely the same as it is in Indonesia’s Constitutional Court. It’s as if we didn’t care.
For many Westerners, the problem is out of sight, so it is also out of mind. While that mindset may be the outcome of our undeniably narcissistic culture, it is contrary to the will of God. The blessings He heaps on us are not for our benefit, but so that we can use them to reach out to “the least of these.”
Who are “the least of these?” They are the ones trapped in abject and often generational poverty. They are the ones who are treated as the lowest of the lowly. They are most often the most vulnerable. They include women and children. And those women and children include those given as child brides and the 600 million women living today enduring the continuing tragedy of having been a child bride.
Read the following Missions Box articles to learn more about the problem of child marriage:
- Can Pakistan End Child Marriage?
- Preventing Child Marriage in Bangladesh – There’s an App for That
- Save the Children: Girls under 15 marry every seven seconds
- South Asia’s Sad Secret: Indignity & Injustice by Dowry
- Reuters, End child marriage “hell” for Indonesian girls, lawmaker urges
- Girls, Not Brides, About Child Marriage
- Gospel for Asia, Photo of the Day