By: Emma Batha
Somalilandsun – Jamila was three years old when her parents gave her to another Afghan family for marriage to their son. She was beaten regularly and treated as a slave.
At 10 she was raped by the uncle of her intended husband. Her injuries were so severe she had to be taken to hospital. The following year she was forced to marry her rapist. Every night he raped her and then sent her to sleep in the stable with the animals.
Jamila’s case is one of several highlighted in a report by international rights group Equality Now which calls for the United Nations to make the elimination of child marriage a new global development target when the Millennium Development Goals are replaced next year.
Equality Now said countries must recognise child marriage as child abuse and introduce robust laws setting a minimum age of 18 for both boys and girls.
“Child marriage legitimises human rights violations and abuses of girls under the guise of culture, honour, tradition and religion,” said the report’s editor, Equality Now’s London director, Jacqui Hunt.
“Its far reaching effects go beyond the individual, affecting the entire community, and even national and global development. Ending child marriage must be a global priority.”
Around 14 million girls are married off every year, depriving them of education and opportunities, jeopardising their health and increasing the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.
Emma Batha is a journalist specialising in humanitarian crises and women’s rights. She joined the Thomson Reuters Foundation from the Reuters international editing desk in London. She has also worked for BBC News Online and the South China Morning Post….
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation