Thesis statement: Whichever way we look at it, underage marriages are not right, and they should be abolished in every country once and for all.
- Body Paragraph
Underage marriage is a violation of the rights of the young girl who gets married.
- The minor does not get involved in the marriage negotiations which contravenes the spirit of marriage.
- Apart from being denied education, the girl suffers domestic violence.
- Body Paragraph
Underage marriage means early motherhood and a large family as a consequence.
- Large families perpetuate a circle of poverty.
- Limited resources for the family.
- Counter Argument
Underage marriages should be respected. Abolishing them could be interpreted to mean interfering with people’s culture.
- Culture is meant to be cherished and not subjected to ridicule.
- Interference with culture amounts to violation of people’s rights.
Culture which does not respect the rights of the people regardless of their gender should not be protected. Moreover, marriage is an institution meant for adults.
Marriage should be an individual choice. Consent, but not coercion, should be the key.
Underage marriage, also known as childhood marriage, refers to the betrothal of girls before they attain “marriageable age” - in this case marriageable age is assumed to be over 18 years. In the past, underage marriages have been largely practiced in the developing countries, but the practice is slowly dying down. Nevertheless, human rights groups, women’s rights groups and children’s rights groups have resisted such marriages all along, and the efforts seem to be paying off in the 20th century. Whichever way we look at it, underage marriages are not right, and they should be abolished in every country once and for all.
Underage marriage is a violation of the rights of the young girl who gets married. In most cases, the marriage is arranged by the girl’s family and the family of the suitor. The girl does not play any role in the process. She is expected to accept and respect the decision made by the parents. In all fairness, such a process is wrong. Marriage should be an institution where two consenting adults willingly decide to take part without any outside interference. In cases whereby the young wife and the husband do not “match”, a lot of disagreements have been reported. In the extreme cases, domestic violence takes place. According to a research carried out by Act!onaid in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria and Mozambique, 86 % of the girls who had been married off at a young age admitted being subjected to some form of violence in their marriages. Ironically, they are the ones who were blamed for the violence. They also admitted that they whenever reported to their parents, such complains were brushed aside as a normal thing in marriages. Apart from being subjected to physical and mental torture, the girls are also denied their right to education. The assumption here is that the role of the woman is to take care of the husband and children, while the husband provides for the family. In addition to violation of girls’ rights, underage marriages perpetuate poverty and ignorance.
It is a well documented fact that girls who are married at an early age go ahead to become mothers at an early age. In the communities where children are seen as assets to the society, such girls are also likely to give birth to many children. What this simply means is that the family’s resources will be subjected to more pressure because there will be many more people in the family to feed. It should not be lost to the reader that most of the underage marriages are perpetuated in poverty-stricken areas. This makes it hard for the parents to provide each of the children with decent education, decent shelter, and adequate food. In the long run, this perpetuates the culture of poverty. Since the girls are married at an early age hence missing out in proper education, their range of knowledge and skills is also limited. As a result, the jobs that they get are not able to give them enough funds to cater for their needs, as well as the needs of the other family members. This leaves the husband to be the breadwinner and, in most cases, the meager earnings will not be enough to satisfy the needs of the family. As a result, going to bed hungry and dropping out of school due to lack of fees is nothing-out-of ordinary for children born in such families. Consequently, it requires something akin to a miracle to full pull out the family out of the poverty circle. Despite the inherent failures of underage marriages, there are some people who still support underage marriages arguing that they should not be abolished because they form part of some community’s culture.
This argument is advanced by those who believe that culture should be preserved, and people should not be victimized for exercising their culture. In most countries, culture is recognized as an integral part of society, and this is inscribed within their constitutions. Therefore, with the knowledge that some communities practice arranged marriages, the right should be respected. Interference with the people’s culture would amount to a violation of their rights. Communities which practice childhood marriages defend themselves arguing that marriage is a social event in which the community expresses itself. Since it is a practice which has been passed on to them for generations, they claim that it is only fair for them to pass the practice down to their future generations. However, such rites cannot be preserved for future generations in an environment where culture is not respected. Nevertheless, although such arguments can be advanced in other areas, marriage should not be one of the fields where such arguments are advanced.
The argument that abolishing underage marriages constitutes to a violation of some people’s way of life is neither here nor there. Sectarian interests should not override the common good at all times. Therefore, people’s individual rights should not be shoved away in order to preserve some backward ideas which have no place in the modern society. If such requests are granted, it can lead to a floodgate of other mundane requests which have no basis. Above all, marriage should be an institution whereby only consenting adults take part. Furthermore, the marriage should be formalized in public and witnessed by a veritable authority. This is the reason why marriage certificates are signed in the presence of public officials or in the presence of church leaders.
In conclusion, underage marriages have no place in modern society, and they should be abolished. Although it is a practice that has been allowed to go on in the past, it should not be left to continue unchallenged because it is an outright violation of a minor’s rights. Most of the reported cases of underage marriage involve customary arrangements made between parents of the suitor and parents of the underage girl. The young girl does not play any role in the negotiations and this is a clear contravention of the spirit of marriage. Moreover, it is a practice that encourages the perpetuation of poverty circle – especially in the developing countries. For those who argue that underage marriages form part of their culture, they should be made aware that such marriages are indeed a violation of human rights. Consequently, the marriages cannot be allowed in pursuit of the benefit of all people. Above all, girls should not be discriminated on the basis of their gender, and culture should not be used as an excuse to deny them their rights. The decision to be in marriage should be an individual choice, and this is something that has to be respected.
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