High risks for girls in child marriagesPhoto | Child bride - Fartun Ahmed married at the age of 16/Photo/Sadia/Ergo
Early marriage, or child marriage, is the marriage of a legal minor under the age of 18. For girls, it causes many severe physical, developmental, psychological, and social consequences that scar the girls who fall prey to it throughout their lives.
In Somalia, one of the evident results of early marriage is an alarmingly high rate of divorce. Most girls who are married when they are physically and mentally immature find it impossibly hard to take on the burdens of running a family. Often this leads to family breakdown and divorce.
Farxiyo Aaden was barely 15 years old when she became a wife. She told Radio Ergo what made her marry so young and what kind of married life she experienced:
“What made me marry that young, my family of course, it was their decision; girls have few options here! The marriage was a huge responsibility, and much too heavy for my feeble shoulders. I was too young to be a wife, and the worst of all was the difficulty and pain of pregnancy and childbirth.”
Farxiya endured the marriage for some time. But she found it extremely hard to manage all the domestic duties in the home. Hardest of all to carry out was her expected duty to satisfy her husband’s sexual appetite. Farxiya said she herself felt more like a school student than an adult in the family house.
Rahmo Ahmed is the mother of four children. Rahmo was married when he was 14. She was too young to bear such responsibilities. She described how married life brought her ill health, and she suffered constant lower back and abdominal pains.
Dr Halima Mohamed, a gynaecologist, told Radio Ergo:
“The child bride is prone to uncountable medical difficulties. Married at an age when she is not physically and sexually mature, she is likely to be forced into sexual activity which results in severe health consequences. For example, she is at risk of suffering heavy bleeding, vaginal fistula, infections, anaemia, and other conditions. Eclampsia is a very serious, life threatening condition that is common among girls who become pregnant at a young age. The girl has not developed fully and her body is put under huge strain in childbirth, which can result in obstructed labour and obstetric fistula. Eclampsia contributes to higher mortality rates of both mother and child.”
Child marriage is universally accepted as a violation of children’s rights. It is a direct discrimination against the girl child and deprives her of all her rights, her childhood and her health. Osmaan Aweys is a human right activist, based in Mogadishu.
“Child marriage is an illegal practice, it is against international law, it is a crime against humanity, it is a violation of children’s rights.”
Sadia Mohamed Nur/FM