Early Marriage – The Benefits And Disadvantages
Before starting a debate on early marriage you would need to define the parameters that label a marriage as ‘early’ and in what context. In the United States, teenage pregnancies abound meaning that girls indulge in sex as early as 13 years old but there is no marriage solemnized before the girl really grows up and is on her own, usually at the very least, 18 years of age.
On the other hand, in Asian countries and many parts of Africa girls are married sometimes very early on (child marriage) and can be at any age between birth and puberty. Once married, they are sent to their in-laws house as soon as they attain puberty. Thus, they too would be sexually active in their teens but they would be so under the compulsion of “marriage” which is traditionally accepted but is still considered illegal.
Early Marriage – The Benefits
In Asian countries the early marriage and therefore early “sending off” to the in-laws house is read as a benefit because it is easier for the child-bride to adapt to her husband’s house and therefore have better chances for a happy marriage. It also felt that when a girl is married off early she would be protected from evils such as rape, casual sex and the like. In Asiatic countries and Africa where chastity is valued above all else, this seems like a great motivating factor for early marriage.
Last but not least, the parents of girls who marry early would normally give less dowry than when they marry at an older age. In areas where poverty is rampant, this is a matter of survival.
In the United States and other parts of the country there are contradictions when it comes to early marriage, as traditions and ways of life are very different when it comes to this. Being married at the age of 22 is considered early marriage in these parts of the world.
Early Marriage – The Disadvantages
When you look at it from the girl’s point of view, you’ll find that most will say it cannot be termed as anything but a disadvantage. Under the label of marriage in Asian and African communities, the girl is first of all subjected to marital rape as early as 13 years old. Pregnancy follows which owing to lack of nutritious food and adequate rest leads to a number of complications. It so happens that by the time the girl reaches her twenties, she is already spent and looks close to forty years of age due to multiple pregnancies, household work and inadequate nutrition which take their toll on her.
Since the girl is too young and definitely uneducated to even know her rights or what is good for her, she is in no position to make any decisions about her life, spacing of babies, food, rest or sexual preference. In most cases she submits herself to whatever her husband and her in-laws decide without having any say in the matter, thus making early marriage something she has to put up with.
This is also the same type of thought found in other countries who don’t practice childhood marriage, and probably the reason it is not practiced today.
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