As part of the 16 days of activism, our blogger, brother of a survivor of child marriage, is calling on young Malian men to get more involved to put an end to this practice
We know that many parents choose early marriage for economic reasons but also as a way to keep girls’ chastity. From what I have noticed and heard, parents complain about their pubescent girl’s behavior such as staying deaf to their advice about boys, sexual activities, and active nightlife. For parents, all these might end up with early pregnancy; burdening the family with another mouth to feed. “Marrying her will at least clear my name with God, society, as well as have someone to feed any baby that may come after her marriage”. These are words of the dad to a newly married fourteen-year school aged girl. Yet are all these descents enough excuses to destroy a life that is just starting? For sure no!
I guess there is no need for us to enumerate all the life threatening and future wrecking consequences of child marriage on our sisters. However, it is important for me to share my own experience of how this practice has changed my sister’s life for worse and forever. My dad wanted her to get married while she was fifteen-year old. Not only because he believed it is his fatherly duty but also because all girls in her age group already had their own household. Well I guess his primary concerns was not to be seen or taxed as someone who failed, especially, god forbid it if my sister had fallen pregnant. So, his ultimate solution was marriage.
To end child marriage, we need young Malian men’s voice and actions
To add sorrow to my pain, six months after her marriage, my sister was pregnant. Joy of the family, sorrow of mine. Due to her age and other medical consideration she was unable to deliver on her own and has c-section. This was physically and mentally burdening for her in addition to hampering her access to education. There are many girls like my sister, yet we keep making the same mistakes as if these examples are not enough to stop girl-child marriage.
It is disheartening to see that, despite all these years and the efforts made, child marriage is still a common practice in our communities. For decades, its negative medical and social impact for girls and their future have been highlighted, yet parents continue to marry off innocent girls. For me as a man, child marriage is an issue that we young Malians should prevent and end. We need to raise awareness with our male voices, so that our parents do not put our sisters through this. I know many of my generation claim to stick to our tradition and cultures, I respect that. But, as time changes, we need to do so, and we should use our education to bring positive changes in our communities where all girls should live happy and get educated, and only get married when they are physically, psychologically and biologically ready.