Child marriage, defined as a formal marriage or informal union before age 18, is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are disproportionately the most affected. Countries in Asia and Africa are having the highest rates of child marriage. Child marriage brings so many disadvantages, because as those children got involved with marriage, they are for sure abandoned their educations and focusing more to household works.
What really upsetting about this, is that some countries are still considering this as a “culture”. According to Merriam-Webster, the meaning of culture for this context is : ‘the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time’. So technically, this ‘child marriage culture’ has been going on for many generations and people are actually think it’s a normal thing. It is not. While there are other reasons why child marriage happens; like poverty and lack of education, but child marriage by cultural practices are the most common reason why this still happens, especially in the 21st Century.
In places where child marriage is seen as a culture, it usually affects the underage girls to be the ‘child bride’ because girls and boys status are still not equal. In some communities, when girls start to menstruate they are already seen as women by the community, so marriage is therefore the next step for them to give away their childhood status as a wife/mother. This usually happens in indigenous places with really minimum or even no access of technology at all like Ethiopia, Niger, and Zimbabwe to name a few . Menstruation itself usually starts between age 10 and 15 year, imagine if a 10 year old is married to a way older man because she menstruates at that age, not only she’s not physically ready for a sexual intercourse, she’s definitely not ready to bear a child.
Now another case of child marriage happens in Indonesia, and this one is caused by poverty. In Madura, one of the Indonesia’s region , especially in the countrysides, lots of family who loan money to the moneylender usually use their daughter as a collateral, so if they can’t pay back the loan then their daughter would be owned by the moneylender, and she’s either gonna be his wife/the moneylender’s son’s/brother’s wife. Though this case is awfully wrong, but the people there are already used by this kind of scenario, so they think that it’s a normal think. Thankfully this kind of case has been reduced over time and rarely happens now.
With those being said, child marriage is wrong because it takes away children’s opportunity to grow up, to get education and pursuing their dreams, and really dangerous for girls because they have not fully grown up yet and not ready to have a sexual intercourse nor to bear a child and giving birth. There should be a strict law in those places to ban this child marriage culture and get rid of it altogether.