Marriage at an Early Age

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Marriage at an Early Age
1.0Introduction

Marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. The age at first marriage varies across the globe. Being married before the age of 18 has been a social norm in third world countries [refer to Appendix A]. The percentage of women being married before age 18 is estimated to be 20 to 50 percent in average in developing countries (Joyce, et al., 2001).

On the other hand, western countries are unlikely to experience the similar pattern of marriage. The marital union is normally delayed too long although this is the most apparent reason for the breakdown in sexual ethics (Orsi, 2001). Because of its wealth, western society chooses to marry later in life until they have built an adequate maturity in age, education and financial state.

Nowadays, many international organizations have made an effort to reduce the number of early marriage worldwide (Yudkin and Robert, 1996). Many believe that the practice of early marriage can hinder self-development of young girls. However, in western countries, there are several efforts to promote young marriages (Orsi, 2001). They believe that early marriage should be looked as a platform to cultivate maturity together but not as an institution just for the grown-up individuals.

As we are concern, early marriage is widely practice in developing countries hence a global issue has arisen as to whether early marriage does really hinder self development due to the consequences it brings to young girls. The practice is believed to bring several benefits to some extent. However, the adverse effects it brings can impede the self-development of young adolescences in many aspects including health consequences, character building and education as well as career opportunities.

2.0Statistical Studies of Early Marriage
This aspect highlights the prevalence of early marriage across the globe and the very reasons of early marriage especially in developing countries. This aspect is important to illustrate the situation regarding early marriage worldwide. 2.1Prevalence of Young Marriage

The practice of young marriage is most common in developing countries (United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2001). According to Joyce (2001), an analysis of Demographic and Healthy Survey data shows that Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asian countries are having the most cases of early marriage. Of these countries that have high cases of young marriage, Niger is the leading country with 88 percent of the women married before age 18.

Adapted From: Joyce, L.F., et al. (2001). Future Options Foreclosed: Girls Who Marry Early. Reproductive Health and Rights.139-143. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from the World Wide Web: http://www.path.org/files/RHR-Article-14.pdf.

2.2Major Factors That Lead to Early Marriage
The huge number of young marriage in developing countries is due to several reasons. Poverty is one of the major factors underpinning early marriage (Joyce, 2001). A young girl may be regarded as an economic burden for a family thus early marriage is looked as a strategy for economic survival. A current study of five very poor villages in Egypt shows that young girls are being married off to much older men from oil-rich Middle Eastern countries for family survival (UNICEF, 2001).

Besides, early marriage is one way to ensure that a girl is protected from physical disturbance (UNICEF, 2001). Parents believe that their daughters are safer when they marry early as there is always a man to guard them. For instance, some families in Northern Uganda encourage the young girls to marry to militia members in order to secure protection (UNICEF, 2001).

For third world countries, marriage shortly after puberty is common among those living traditional lifestyles (Joyce, 2001). The girls as early as 14 years old have to carry responsibilities as a wife. As it has become a social custom, the tradition is...
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