What if Your Dad Had Married at Age 7?
It's Father's Day, a day which should be filled with summertime family fun - not stories about child marriage. In the United States, it's hard for us to imagine something as shocking as children marrying at an age when they should be attending second grade, but it happens in many countries.
In some cultures, child marriage is an accepted (although usually illegal) social norm, which dictates that children are married off to other families in exchange for a dowry that includes furniture or livestock. Globally, more than 15 million girls are married before the age of 18, some as young as 7 or 8 years old. Pregnancy and childbirth are are among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15-19 in low-income countries, and girls who are married early have few prospects for education, economic empowerment or viable employment. Organizations and campaigns such as The Elders, Save the Children, World Vision and Girls Not Brides are working to prioritize girls' education and reduce instances of child brides.
Yet, in a landscape filled with NGOs dedicated to helping young women, the spotlight has rarely been shone upon child grooms - boys forced into marriage at an early age.