Ask any 5-year-old girl what her life is all about, and she'll probably tell you it's kindergarten, princesses, soccer practice, Word Girl, Mommy, and Daddy. One thing that is definitely not part of an average 5-year-old girl's life: Marriage.
But for at least one 5-year-old girl, forced marriage was a terrifying reality. The UK's Forced Marriage Unit found her last year and helped her escape her marriage. That's the good news. The bad news? She's not the only one.
After a year-long investigation, the Forced Marriage Unit uncovered some 400 forced marriages among families throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. And the scariest thing they discovered was that 29 percent of the marriages involved minors -- girls as young as 5 years old!
These girls are typically taken abroad for the marriages, usually to complete strangers. To be fair, when very young children are married, the families usually wait a few years before that marriage is consummated. So that's some consolation -- a pitiful amount of consolation.
The Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation wants it to be a crime to force your child to marry. They're hoping a new anti-forced marriage law will empower girls to stand up to their parents and get help. But will it? One victim of a forced marriage is worried that if it's made a crime, girls will be reluctant to testify against their parents.
I can see both sides. But no matter how culturally sensitive I want to be, I'm simply not okay with the idea of forcing children into marriage. It's a practice that often involves kidnapping, beatings, and rape. Maybe this was a practice that made sense for families hundreds of years ago, but in this world, a girl's life should be so much bigger than that.
Do you think it would help or hurt potential victims to make forced marriage a crime?
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