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POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 1

The Political, Social, and Economic Effects

of Child Marriage in India, North Africa,

the United States, and Iran

Alexander S. Cole

Tallwood High School


POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 2

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………3

Literature Review…………………………………………………………………………….5

Discussion……………………………………………………………………………………7

India…………………………………………………………………………………….8

North Africa……………………………………………………………………………11

Iran……………………………………………………………..……………………...14

United States…………………………………………………………………………..16

Media………………………………………………………………………………….19

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………..……...21

References………………………………………………………………………………….23
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 3

Abstract

This paper explores modern examples of child marriage in the modern world, delving into their

origins and recent developments. For the purpose of this paper and the sources discussed, child

marriage is defined as the marriage of any individual under the age of 18. It is also limited to the

marriages that are arranged by the parents of those who are under the age of 18. Arranged

marriages are not necessarily child marriages by nature, but they are set up by the family for their

children to get married. Poverty is defined as those who are below 100% of the calculated

poverty line which is determined by tripling the average cost of food (adjusted through inflation

and average people per household) and setting that number to be 100%. The Poverty Cycle is a

phenomenon observed by researchers in the field that is defined as the process of poverty rates

being worsened or kept static through a course of events with notable events contributing to it.

Keywords: Arranged Marriage, Poverty, Poverty Cycle


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The Political, Social, and Economic Effects of Child Marriage

In India, North Africa, the United States, and Iran

All across the world, many are fortunate enough to have the liberty to choose what they

want to do with their lives. They are able to ascend in economic status and make reforms in their

social status, while maintaining a relatively independent way of living. Although this sounds

like commonplace in many western societies, there are many regions that hold traditions of

giving their children away to marriage before they are even fully developed. Child marriage

brings on inhibited social development, hindered economic prosperity, and unsteady political

decision-making processes as a result of women robbed of the opportunity of progressing up the

social ladder decelerated by forced unions in which women are subject to physical and emotional

abuse.

Child marriage has been a point of contention for many of those studying the state of

affairs in foreign countries. It is an integrated part of culture that has been passed down for

generations, but it is also a means by which many women are cripple from participating in

society and by which they are inhibited from growing into fully functional adults that contribute

to the world in which they live. Although the former argument is justifiable in response to

forced assimilation, it has been found that nations declining in the observation of this practice

benefit greatly in many aspects. However, not only society benefits; there are many

opportunities offered to women who are able to decide when they want to get married. As a

result of such research, there has been a decline in many countries such as Lebanon where only

6% of all of its women marry before the age of 18 (“Lebanon - Child Marriage,” 2002).

Nevertheless, there are still states that persist in the long held tradition with laws mirroring

public opinion. In Saudi Arabia, there are no restrictions on the ages at which women are
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 5

allowed to be married; often times after women are married in Saudi Arabia, they have very little

rights, and there are very few activists permitted to protest for them (al-Ahmed, 2011). There are

also several states in the United States that allow for women to be married before they are 18.

Moreover, men being given power over women in these marriages restrict what they are able to

do. Such customs restrain women from being able to participate in the society in which they live

and are only limited to their homes and wherever men in their family designate them to go.

States that allow women to marry at such a young age greatly affect the economy and population

growth of the country (Travers 2017).

Literature Review

India has one of the most concentrated populations of women married before the age of

18. However, India has not always seen a tradition of child marriage. In the beginning of its

history in around 200 BC to 700 AD, men and women would marry for love and enjoyed the

privilege of marriage being a free decision. The custom of arranged marriages arrived from the

influence of Medieval England, including the idea of chivalry and devotion to family. Then,

families began to believe that it was a duty of all members of the family to provide for the family

in what ways they could. Members of the family surrendered completely free decision making,

and, for women, this meant permitting their families to set a bride price for their daughter to be

married (Marion, 2010) In recent events, women have been protesting large-scale against child

marriage and speaking out against perceived injustices associated with it. Those protesting are

still suppressed in an effort to continue opposition to such movements (Mazumdar, 2018).

Despite this, research indicates that these protests are having some impact, as the amount of child

marriages over the past decade have dramatically decreased.


POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 6

North Africa also carries a long history of child marriage. In fact, it has the fastest

progress against child marriages over the past three decades (“Middle East and North Africa,”

2018). It saw the introduction of child marriage as Muslims migrated towards that area in the

seventh century. The area is also connected to large gender inequality and economic disparity.

Although a higher percentage of boys face the challenge of child marriage in this region, women

are the large majority and it continues to be an issue (“Child Marriage in the Middle East,”

2017).

Contrary to popular belief, marriage before the age of 18 is still permitted in the United

States. In some states, there are still laws that allow for women as early as 12 to 13 years old to

marry. Many believe that these laws are a result of teenagers in love, but laws that allow

marriage at this age provide the same consequences to women as they do anywhere else. A large

majority of girls who marry before they are 18 are usually still in high school and drop out, never

continuing their education which ultimately can lead to poverty for the families involved and

contributes to a higher overall poverty rate throughout the country (Dahl, 2010). This issue is

not ignored by social activists, however; there are modern movements advocating for girls to be

allowed to be educated before they are rushed or pressured into decisions to marry or have their

parents let them get married (“United States - Child Marriage,” 2018). Their main goal is not to

simply raise awareness, but rather prevent this from continuing to happen. There are exceptions

in almost all states that let girls get married before the age of 18. Until very recently, all 50

states allowed child marriage in some shape or form, but Delaware became the first state to ban it

in all forms regardless of parental consent on May 4, 2018 (Tsui, 2018).

Iran, a predominantly Muslim nation, also has laws that permit the marriage of women

younger than 13 with parental permission. However, only a little under a fifth of all children are
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 7

married by the age of 18 (“Iran - Child Marriage,” 2018). Despite a comparatively low and

declining rate of child marriage, UNICEF predicts that that number could be much higher

because of the volume of unregistered marriages in the rural areas of Iran (Shakib, 2018). With

up to 55% of all of Iran’s urban population under the poverty line (“Iran’s Cities,” 2011), further

sectioning off possible workers that can contribute to the economy certainly does not aid the

situation.

Discussion

Limitations of These Studies

Although a wide range of modern commentary regarding child marriage will be

discussed, there are boundaries to which this research is defined.

Case limitations. Firstly, the scope has been focused on child marriage in India, North

Africa, the United States, and Iran. Information regarding other areas and their relation to child

marriage will be sparse and used as supporting details rather than as a main idea.

Religious limitations. Although religion is partly considered as a factor in social

structures that contribute to child marriage, the research is confined to cultural and economic

factors. The following analysis does not include the morality of religion or the practices of child

marriage, but the economic and social effects resulting from them. The author is a male,

Christian, middle class, American citizen limited to the cultural views presented by the United

States. Analysis and commentary were written in a way to avoid possible bias or normative

judgement. However, these are integrated traits of the writer that may influence the writing.

Timeline limitations. Research also ranges from the 1500s until the modern era. This

paper is supported with evidence from the most recent developments in the field with events

from a variety of timeframes used to enhance the overarching argument. The paper also explores
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the development of practices from the beginning of a country’s history to the modern era,

however in-depth examples and analysis will be taken from more recent events.

India

The Indian subcontinent exists in Asia to the southeast of what is generally called the

Middle East. It has a population of 1.36 billion people (“India Population,” 2018), and it is

increasing at an incredibly fast rate. It is very likely that it will surpass even the population of

China in the near future. 79.8% of its population practices Hinduism, and Muslims make up

14.2% (“India’s swing,” 2018) India is known for its long history of dowries and bride prices

regarding arranged marriages. This tradition gained prominence with the introduction of English

colonizers in India that brought ideas of chivalry and serving the family (Marion, 2010). These

practices have recently declined in India, as well. There have been protests against the practice

by women all throughout India. Despite this, one of every three child brides exist in India

(“Ending Child Marriage,” 2014).

A recent example of such protest occurred when an eight year old girl was raped in a

Hindu Temple in April of 2018. This caused a massive protest from Bollywood actresses who

spoke out against child marriages and how they allow practices like these to happen. When girls

are married to men who normally would be convicted of statutory rape, charges are more easily

dropped due to the fact of the legal union between the two (“India’s swing,” 2018).

Furthermore, despite the rapid decline of child marriages of the past decade, about one quarter of

all Indian girls are married by the age of 18 (Strochlic, 2018). Not only do these marriages leave

women vulnerable to rape to their legal spouses, but they also protect men who impregnate

women before they are of legal age.


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Social movements such as the Women’s Indian Association advocate for the rights of

women and are moving to remove laws that allow traditions like child marriage. They seek to

better the overall social status of women in every aspect possible, and they see the ridding of

child marriage as an important step in the process for women to move up the social ladder in

society (Raman, 2016). As has been discussed earlier, women who marry before they attain the

age of 18 usually never end up continuing on to complete their education. For that reason, it is

clear to see the potential negative effects resulting from holding a population back from getting

an education.

In any given population, those restricted from attaining an education will naturally have a

more difficult time finding work and contributing to the economy. In fact, they usually induce a

vicious cycle in which a family stays in poverty. Often times, women are married off in

necessity of taking care of the children. Because these women tend to their husbands, children,

and home, they are never able to secure a job with a steady income to support the household

(Betar, 2012). Not only is this a result of the cycle, however. India’s traditional society

continues child marriage because it is now the custom of many villages. In fact, village elders

support it in many cases (Jain 2018) As a result, women continue to be married off at a young

age and are not able to break from the tradition despite laws against it.

This certainly begs the question of why this continues to happens. Of course, such a

complex issue cannot be boiled down concisely to a few points. However, the two

aforementioned issues of the poverty cycle and village endorsement are certainly places to start.

Poor economies are linked with low-quality healthcare, which ultimately reduces the

average lifespan and prosperity of the people in the country. One possible solution to this issue

is to break the poverty cycle at some point. The three way checkpoints of economic decline,
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poor healthcare, and child marriage are all possible points of intervention in order to break the

other two issues. Prioritizing economic growth by allocating resources to profitable industries in

India will lead to a growth of wealth that can then be used to improve the healthcare industry.

Once the Indian people are happy and healthy, the role of women in the home will largely

decrease. As children are at less risk of dying, women will be able to participate in a long-term

career that will bring income to the household.

Taking a personal perspective into account also aids understanding of the situation. A

young woman, Aneeya Rao, born and raised in the United States with parents from India was

interviewed regarding this topic. She said that her parents did not meet through an arranged

situation (they met through mutual friends), but they were not opposed to the idea of child

marriage (A. Rao, personal communication, December 6, 2018). She also said that she herself

was not against the idea of having her parents arrange the marriage; however, both she and her

parents agreed that education was a priority (A. Rao, personal communication, December 6,

2018). This is one of the strongest ways to combat many of the issues associated with child

marriage. By offering their daughter not only the freedom to choose how she marries, but also

the chance to finish her education, she is afforded the stability to stand in society with an

education.

Directing the issue of child marriage directly is also a possible solution. One method of

doing so is enforcing the laws that are already in place. Many times, the small rural areas of

India are the sources of child marriage practices (Jain 2018). The long held tradition trumps the

laws that were put in place because of the seniority complex. By allowing law enforcement to

push on these rural areas to edge away from child marriage, India will more than likely see a

positive change in society. There are also many parents in India who agree with such actions.
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There are parents all across India who seek to have no children married by the age of 18 (Jain

2018).

North Africa

North Africa does not have as long as a history of Child Marriage as India. The total

population of all of the countries in North Africa amounts to around 195 million people (Jurey et

al., 2018). It has a wide variety of cultural characteristics from the trade-heavy Morocco to the

tourist-heavy Egypt. The tradition of child marriage was introduced with the conquest of

Muslims during the early 7th century. It spread through all of the northern region of Africa, and

Sub-Saharan Africa, separated by the desert, experiences less Muslim influence and less

traditional child marriage rates.

The rate of child marriage among the Middle East and North Africa is about 17% of girls

married by the age of 18 (“Middle East and North Africa,” 2018). It is said that child marriages

in North Africa result less from tradition and more from societal conditions that are already

present. As in India, there are factors of gender inequality, high poverty rates, and lack of

educational opportunities. There are extreme cases of sexual assault that occur all around North

Africa, as well. Recently, a 17 year-old girl was found kidnapped and raped by numerous men

for months (Flood 2018). Now, of course this is not a direct result of child marriage in North

African society, but the culture surrounding it has allowed laws and mindset around it to persist.

The United Nations is in the process of making efforts to end child marriage in North Africa over

the next 15 years (Smaak and Varia, 2017). This provides implications not only for the people of

Northern Africa, but a way for all that the UN seeks to benefit.

There have been cases in the past decade in which women have been able to escape the

tradition of child marriage and return to education. Despite this, a woman named Nadia was
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forced to marry at the age of 16 and was pregnant by the age of 18 (“Confronting child

marriage,” 2016). Child marriage in North Africa, in fact, can be directly related to Muslim

culture as opposed to the factor of tradition in India. Rates of child marriage have dramatically

decreased in past years, but they have still remained constant since the introduction of Muslim

influence in the seventh century. This is evidence that child marriage is multifaceted, and

required a dynamic approach.

As in India, women who have secured an education and jobs tend to stray away from

marriage until later in their lives. This has been especially evident in times of war and crisis. As

families are separated during war, women are no longer viewed as units of the family, and they

are valued as economic participants. War is known to have great effects on the debt and

spending deficits on a country. Countries have liberal spending habits in order to support the

war effort, and there are less inhibitions on where the money is spent (Pettinger, 2017). Women

are crucial in labor markets in these times because of such deficits. They are needed in order to

contribute capital back into the society that is leaking large amounts funds in order to protect its

people.

There has been a global trend world-wide that shows the increase of women working in

markets all across the world since the 20th century (Ortiz-Ospina and Tzvetkova, 2017). These

higher rates of participation have also been linked with a higher GDP, as well. Morocco has

seen significant progress in the protection of girls over the past few decades. The amount of

child marriages has more than halved from its original amount from 30 years ago, and there have

been significant changes in the legal system in order to prevent child marriage (“Morocco - Child

Marriage, 2018). Despite this, however, it has been on a recent increase. There was a 23%

increase of marriages involving underage spouses in the three year period between 2007 and
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2010 (“Morocco - Child Marriage,” 2018). This has continued from the cultural practice of

marrying as early as the age of 15, which was outlawed in 2004 (where the minimum age of

consent was raised to 18) (“Morocco - Child Marriage,” 2018). There are still cases like that in

India where girls are raped and then married as to avoid legal charges. This happened to a girl

named Amina Filali in March of 2012, which prompted an amendment to Moroccan law in 2014

(“Morocco - Child Marriage,” 2018). In July 2018, however, there have been reports by

UNICEF still indicate that around 20% of all women in North Africa (and the Middle East) are

married by the age of 18 (“Profile of Child Marriage,” n.d.).

Legal documents prevent men from being charged with the crimes they commit to their

wives. Nujood Ali, a Yemeni girl married at ten years old, wrote of how she was sexually

assaulted and how her assailant avoided prosecution because of the agreement her father had

come to. In her book I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, she details a scene where she is

assaulted, and her legal husband said he could do whatever he liked to her because “[her father]

signed the marriage contract” (Ali, 2011). She also tells of the lengthy legal process that it took

to get divorced and how she had to do it alone as a ten year old (Ali, 2011). Although this

occurred in Saudi Arabia, similar anecdotes can be found in all of North Africa. The process of

divorce is complex, and these girls do not typically receive help from their families.

UNICEF has in fact established a goal of eliminating all child marriage by the year 2020.

Current projections indicate that this is not a likely goal in North Africa, with 33% of women

between the ages of 20 to 24 registered as having been married before the age of 18, with a

projected 4% by 2030 (“Profile of Child Marriage,” n.d.). That is not to say that UNICEF is not

making great progress in North Africa. The most success that UNICEF is able to claim is the

fact that child brides before the age of 15 makes up less than 15% of all women in these societies
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(“Ending Child Marriage,” 2014). Furthermore, North Africa is seeing the fastest decline in the

world as a result of the work of UNICEF. It is entirely possible that the rate of child marriage in

countries with such high rates will fall below 5% within the next 25 years.

Iran

Iran is a Middle-Eastern country that has been measured to have 99% of its population as

Muslims (“Iran Religion Stats,” 2018). One of the tensest factors in the relations in the Middle

East is related to the Shiite majority in Iran, and the Sunni majority in Saudi Arabia (“The Sunni-

Shia Divide,” 2016). As of July 2017, it has a population of 82 Million people, with 21 males

born for every 20 females (“Iran Demographics Profile,” 2018).

Laws in Iran permit the marriage of girls at the age of 13, and boys at the age of 15 at

their own accord. They are, however, permitted to marry at a younger age with the permission of

their father and a court judge (“Iran - Child Marriage,” 2018). In just the period of one year

(March 2015-March 2016), a little over 37,000 child marriages occurred in Iran (Mizanian,

2018). Although this is the amount of marriages that have been registered, it is difficult to

measure the exact amount of marriages because of those who authorize the union involving

someone underage and the fact that the large majority of Iranian citizens do not report marriages

or childbirth (Mizanian, 2018).

There are actions being taken in Iran to raise the age of marriage, as well. However,

Djamchid A Momeni points out several difficulties with making such progress in the Journal of

Marriage and Family published in 1972. Momeni argued that the large rate of population

growth would make it difficult to attempt to the raise the minimum age of legal unions (Momeni,

1972). Momeni took notice to how child marriage was a common practice of many groups that

existed in Iran. He also noticed that they are “betrothed when they are very young.. But not
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 15

married until they are about sixteen” (Momeni, 1972). This shows first-hand experience of a

researcher seeing the limits that statistics are able to provide regarding the amount of children

married in Iran. Children are often entered into these unofficial unions until they are of a legal

age to marry, at which they may or may not record it through the state. Even then, there are

several possible cases of women that are currently married at a legal age that could have very

well been in an unofficial union since they were eight or nine.

As elsewhere, child marriage has been able to persist because of the lack of restrictions

against it. In one case, a girl grew up with a friend since she was very little, and they ended up

marrying each other later in life. However, the couple had a five year difference between them,

and she was 10, and he was 15, they got married (Esfandiari and Karimimajd, 2016). It can

certainly be assumed that neither party had initiated the plans for marriage on their own accord,

as they were childhood friends. But, Leila, 22, escaped from this relationship and told Radio

Free Europe about how the marriage occurred as a result of her father arranging the marriage

(Esfandiari and Karimimajd, 2016). This is another example of how child marriage appears to

avoid detection in Iran. She accounts of how she was awoken in the middle of the night with a

proposal (Esfandiari and Karimimajd, 2016). This relates to how laws against child marriage are

violated without the notification of any law enforcement officials. Through this method, many

marriages are able to bypass legal repercussions and detection. This still further contributes to a

population of girls who are unaccounted for in statistics regarding child marriage in Iran.

In an article published in the International Journal of Pediatrics, it was cited that early

marriage of girls who are under age leads to several of the effects that are present in previous

examples: “poverty and financial debility, extension of social network, and protection of girls

against rape and violence” (Khazaei et al.). The authors do not mention these as the only effects
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 16

however. He also ties these practices to how the structure of society stands and how it is posed

to endure future damage. They argue that “the consequences of child marriage… [have]

negative effects on families and communities. The practice thrives on poverty and impacts

adversely on a country’s health and educational sector” (Khazaei et al.). The authors include

UNICEF statistics that show the rate of child marriage in Iran compared to that of other

countries. Although rates are comparatively low, Iran also faces the problem of lack of

enforcement of the legal code.

Iran displays similar effects to that of other countries, and as such there are also

movements to end such practices. However, it has been shown consistently that there are still

those who fly under the radar with child marriage, and allow their daughters to get married

before legal age. Statistics from Iran still need to be improved, but a possible solution is to start

enforcing harsher punishments and regulations regarding child marriage. Furthermore, it has

been noted that, due to its comparatively lower rate with other countries, that its situation is not

gaining as much attention. Nevertheless, making progress anywhere in the world is a step in the

right direction.

The United States

The United States is not well-known for its rates of child marriage and its resulting

economic effects. Perhaps this issue is overshadowed by the fact that the United States is

typically credited with a strong economy. Child Marriage is still an issue in the United States,

and there are still laws that permit it.

Typically, the laws in the United States play Devil’s Advocate with the idea of child

marriage and find no explicit laws permitting the marriage of young women. It is true that the

laws of the United States do not specifically address the marriage of minors in many aspects; but,
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the current laws do allow for minors to be married with parental consent. Over 3,500 minors in

New Jersey alone were married between 1995 and 2012 (Tsui, Nolan, and Amico, 2017).

Furthermore, between 2000 and 2015, at least “207,459 minors were married in the United

States” (Tsui et al., 2017)

It is true that there has been a sharp decline in the amount of marriages per year since

2000. However, there are still laws in place that allow for this to happen, and undoubtedly

tighter restrictions on these practices would limit the number of child marriages every year in the

US.

Although traditions of child marriage have long been surpassed as the social norm, laws

allowing child marriage persist. These laws allow for people from other cultures to carry on

traditions of arranged marriage of minors. The loophole in which this practice thrives is the fact

that the permission of a legal guardian voids the requirement to be 18 before one gets married.

Only recently did Delaware become the first state to ban child marriage in all forms on May 4,

2018 (Tsui, 2018). Furthermore, teenagers who marry are typically between the ages of 16 to 17

and are still in high school by the time they get married (Dahl, 2010). A strong positive

correlation between populations of high school dropouts and minor marriage rates has been

found. This illustrates how underage marriage is causing high school students to drop out and

never return to school. Moreover, it has been consistently proven that high school dropouts have

a more difficult time advancing to the next stages of their lives. They have a difficult time

finding work to support the families that they are raising, and the possible income from these

kinds of populations is lost due to poor educational opportunities pursued after dropping out.

There have been significant movements in legislation against underage marriage since

then, as well. As of May 25, 2018, child marriage was still legal in 49 U.S. states (Blankley,
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 18

2018). Although legislation has been written and passed, there are still exceptions among these

laws. For couples that are under the age of 18 and are expecting a child, they are able to get

married with judge approval (Blankley, 2018). This allows for the same issue that was found in

India to occur. Men are legally allowed to have sex with those they marry, even if they are under

age. Pregnancy is even the main factor for getting married in this case.

Legislation was passed in March of 2018 that clarified this flaw. A woman in Florida

was forced to marry her rapist at the age of 11. They updated it so as to say that both parties

must be 17 or older in order to be legally married (Farrington, 2018). Although it may not seem

like such an issue to have two teenagers marry when they are expecting a child and in love, there

are two issues that come with this.

Firstly, the aforementioned labor issues is a huge factors. Teenagers who end up getting

married before completing high school or having a job never end up contributing as much to

society as someone who did not. Adding a child to the mix also complicates things. With a baby

comes the issue of how the couple will pay for the child’s needs, the ultimate solution usually

being government welfare. Even if the couple ends up becoming active members of society with

well-paying jobs, that money is reinvested into the child and there ends up being little

stimulation of the economy as a direct result of the work that the pair do.

Secondly, by allowing couples that are pregnant and willing to get married to do so, there

is the issue of older men with underage women. Girls who are pressured by their families to

marry their rapists as to not bring shame to the family allows men who seek underage women to

continue.

The Media
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The media also has great influence in the public opinion regarding child marriage. The

media creates a loop with the opinions of the people: it feeds them and reflects them at the same

time. Media also has a stronger effect in nations where reporting is free, open, and encourages

change in legal structure. It has been able to connect people from all across the world which

holds powerful implications.

The organization Girls Not Brides claims that reporting on child marriage should be

moralized and stimulate conversation about it (Mohsin, 2016). This is perhaps a stronger

example of those who seek to end child marriage, but the article does demonstrate that there is

more media coverage on the topic, and it is becoming a well-known topic (Mohsin, 2016).

Dawn newspaper also discusses the role of media in preventing child marriage. They write

articles exposing the effects of child marriage and writing news regarding women’s social

progress all over the world (Jalil, 2014). The Guardian is also another prominent news source

that has written about the horrors of child marriage. Although it is not one of the main examples

studied, Hannah Ellis-Petersen wrote an article on the Guardian regarding child marriage in

Thailand (Ellis-Petersen, 2018). Many of the same effects are exhibited in Thailand as the rest of

the examples, but the existence of this article shows that this is a topic that is beginning to pick

up steam in news media. This illustrates that child marriage is a concern of the people, and more

authors are willing to recognize it. This kind of news is gaining prominent light, and this could

very well be one of the driving factors for reforms

News media is not the only contributing factor to the existence of child marriage. Social

media has developed a status as an informal institution through which those who seek to fight

against child marriage are able to do so. It has produced advocates for child marriage, provided

anonymity for women sharing their stories, and exposure to the real world. Virtually anyone in
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the world is able to access social media and see what is going on in the world with a cell phone

or computer. Per standard, Girls Not Brides has been a strong protester on platforms such as

twitter, facebook, and instagram. Through this medium, partners of organizations are able to

project information from one part of the world to another. Monica Anderson of Pew Research

Center argues that the world is entering a new era of protest; protest reached an all time high

with hashtags pertaining to issues such as Black Lives Matter (Anderson, Toor, and Smith,

2018). The growth of social media has no doubt seen a growth of activism. The increasing

personalization associated with social media shows a movement towards more personalized

protesting that is ultimately stronger and more effective in the long run.

Although social media has shown great potential for positive movement towards

activism, it also has adverse potential that can be used to demean progress. This is not even to

say that information provided through social media will encourage sympathy with child

marriage, but it can be used in ways that foster the nefarious practices of breaking the law. An

author for medium wrote an article regarding the glorification of early or arranged marriages on

social media and how it contributes to further integration of the practice in society (“Are

Arranged Marriages Still Relevant,” 2018). Although the author does not explicitly mention any

negative effects of this trend, she does say that it encourages young couples to get married and

have unstable relationships that balance on the anxiety of whether or not they love each other

(“Are Arranged Marriages Still Relevant,” 2018).

Social Media also has more direct effects on the issue of child marriage. Recently

Facebook has come under investigation because it was slow to respond to a live auction on

Facebook that offered “a girl aged 16 or 17 in South Sudan” to be married off (Britton, 2018).

The father of the young girl did end up receiving many benefits from the auction. This presents
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 21

a grave development of the platforms from which child marriage is able to thrive. Social Media

has been able to progress in a increasingly dangerous site from which girls are endangered and

lose their rights.

Conclusion

Child Marriage in and of itself is a complicated issue that can be found all across the

world, even in nations where one would not expect them to be found. As its causes are

multifaceted, so are its solutions. In areas that already have laws banning child marriage, strict

enforcement to ensure maximum adherence to the laws would be ideal to limiting the amount of

child marriages every year. It is important that such laws are understood to have legitimacy and

efficacy; it needs to be understood that the law will be applied in every instance of it being

broken. The economy is another important aspect to take into account. Less Developed

Countries do host a larger number of sexual assault, early pregnancy, and child marriage. This

cannot be directly attributed to their high rates of child marriage, but they can perhaps be based

off of each other. One of the main priorities of such countries should be to maximize capital and

the prosperity of its people. That being said, health care is another important point in the issue of

child marriage. Quality health care is crucial in a society that is developing, and by expecting a

longer lifespan, early marriage and childrearing is not as much of a concern. Health Care not

only encompasses longevity, however. It also includes the rights of women to understand that

they have rights to their bodies, and that they do not have to have sex with men that force

themselves on them. The last point that is related is education. In these countries, it has also

been found that women have less educational opportunities than men. It is perhaps another

correlation that can neither be linked as the cause or effect of declining child marriage. Overall,

in order to prevent the issue of child marriage, or its effects, from continuing, grand social
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 22

reforms will be needed; institutions will need to be modified greatly to accompany thoughts of

the new world and new research regarding the effects of child marriage.
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE 23

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