July 11, 2006
"In many societies, the term "child bride" calls to mind impetuous sweethearts, a ladder cautiously positioned beneath a bedroom window, a silent kiss in the moonlight and a young couple making an anxious getaway to a justice of the peace. But this is not a ready image the world over. In Afghanistan, a child bride is very often just that: a child, even a preteen, her innocence betrothed to someone older, even much, much older. Rather than a willing union between a man and woman, marriage is frequently a transaction among families, and the younger the bride, the higher the price she may fetch. Girls are valuable workers in a land where survival is scratched from the grudging soil of a half-acre parcel. In her parents' home, a girl can till fields, tend livestock and cook meals. In her husband's home, she is more useful yet. She can have sex and bear children.
Afghanistan is not alone in this predilection toward early wedlock. Globally, the number of child brides is hard to tabulate; they live mostly in places where births, deaths and the human milestones in between go unrecorded. But there are estimates. About 1 in 7 girls in the developing world (excluding China) gets married before her 15th birthday, according to analyses done by the Population Council, an international research group." By Barry Bearak, New York Times Magazine Link to Article (last visited 7-10-06 NVS)
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