Read the story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Human Wrongs Watch
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:

Three Girls, Three Stories: The Perils of Child Marriage and the Promise of Freedom

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Human Wrongs Watch

BELGRADE, Serbia/LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan /ESKİŞEHİR, Turkey, 11 February 2021 (UNFPA)* –  How much is a girl worth? If you are Maja, the answer is a chicken, a six-pack of beer and €100. That is how much her family, living in a Roma settlement in Serbia, received in exchange for her hand “in marriage.” She was 11 years old at the time. “They benefited maybe a month from it, and I was left with a problem for my whole life,” Maja, now 18, said.

Sixteen-year-old Fethiye fled war in Iran – and the likelihood of child marriage – to Turkey. © UNFPA Turkey

“My three sisters didn’t do much better. One gave birth when she turned 13. They were not sold, but they ran away from our mother at an early age. I was the only one who was sold.”

According to a 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, nearly 56 per cent of women aged 20-24 in Roma settlements in Serbia were married before the age of 18, while almost 16 percent were married before 15.

And in a 2017 study on migrant women in Serbia conducted by UNFPA and partner NGO Atina, 52 percent of participants could not choose when and to whom they would marry. The average age of girls entering marriage was 17.5 years old; the youngest was seven. One participant explained how partners are chosen: “How can you, as a girl, know who would be a good partner? This is on your family to decide.” 

For child brides everywhere, the consequences are devastatingly predictable: their educations grind to a halt, stifling their ability to earn an income and continuing the cycle of poverty. They can suffer complications – even death – due to pregnancies and births their young bodies are not ready to handle; they are more vulnerable to gender-based violence; and they may develop mental health disorders that may lead to suicidal tendencies. To be clear: None of this is a result of a decision she made, not over her body, her present or her future.

Maja, who was forced to marry at age 11, wrote an account about that painful chapter in her young life. © UNFPA Serbia

Horror, then hope

At 15, Zulaikha*, in Afghanistan, was enjoying school and wanted to become a doctor. But her poverty-stricken family arranged her marriage to an older man nearly twice her age. Despite her protests and the fact that the intended bridegroom was unemployed, she was forced to marry against her will.

Almost immediately, Zulaikha was no longer permitted to attend classes. Zulaikha’s husband began taking out his anger and frustration on her. He beat her almost daily, and in fall 2019, she went to the provincial hospital in Laghman Province for a fractured eye socket and damaged back. In the emergency ward, she was identified as a victim of gender-based violence.

At the hospital’s family protection centre, and through the family response unit, both established by UNFPA, Zulaikha received psychosocial and legal support, as well as skills-training. Her husband was ultimately convicted for abuse and sentenced to six months in prison. “No girl should be stopped from what she dreams,” she said. “This is the right of every girl: To decide her future.”

Regaining self-confidence

If Fethiye, 16, and her family had not fled to Turkey from Iraq in 2017, she would be a wife and school dropout by now.  “In our culture, girls get married at an early age,” she said. “This is very common, especially if the girl is out of school.” She grew up in a world in which girls were denied equal access to  education, and were often forced by families and communities to stay at home.

When the family arrived in Turkey, “the first months were so difficult. I didn’t speak or write the language,” she recalled. “My family felt insecure and didn’t even let us go outside. They didn’t even plan to send us back to school.” Then they were connected to a UNFPA-run women and girls safe space, which held an orientation for refugees and migrants.

“A ray of hope arose, but after was beyond that I imagined,” she said. The centre convinced her parents that Fethiye should continue her studies without being a wife to anyone. “My parents trusted the centre and acknowledged that their services were beneficial, if not life-changing. I not only learned how to speak Turkish but started courses to finish secondary school remotely. I have attended theatre and archery courses and made many friends. I have gained my self-confidence back.”

Today, Zulaikha is 17 and runs a tailoring business, training other women so they, too, can become financially independent. Fethiye dreams of attending university and working in a field that allows her to help others. And for Maja, who escaped her traumatic past at 14 with the help of Atina, the future looks brighter than it ever has. “The most important thing in life is to have peace and freedom. All the rest will come,” she said. “After everything that happened to me, I know I can manage only if I am free.”

*Name changed to protect identity



Tens of millions of girls are watching their girlhoods end, not with storybook romance but with harmful rites of passage such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
1 February 2021. … read story >

This paper presents the findings from a scoping review of the evidence base on child marriage from 2000-2019 addressing the question what has the evidence-based contributed to most effectively, and what important gaps remain after 20-year evolution?
31 January 2021view resource >

UNITED NATIONS, New York – It comes as no surprise that Merriam-Webster declared “pandemic” the word of the year. The biggest stories all stemmed from one story: COVID-19, a disease that affected the respiratory system, was transmitted by breath and fittingly surrounded us like…


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Immusist Beverage Concentrate - Proprietary blend, formulated to reduce inflammation while hydrating and oxygenating the cells.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Load more ...




Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.