Girls Not Brides: Putting an End to Child Marriages

Tilyan Aslam
This story is for all those women who are grieving in silence, whose voice remains unheard, it is dedicated to every woman who goes through unbearable pain, persistent violation, gender biases, incessant oppression, consistent refusals, and battles for daily survival.
This is a heartwrenching story of an innocent young girl, Sarah who should have been aspiring for her future and enjoying her adolescence.
A tragedy led her in deep throes of miseries. This twelve years old girl belonging to Turbat, Kech – the city that I live in – fell a victim to child marriage.
Child marriages are a very common practice in Balochistan, especially in the tribal and rural areas. Disturbingly, most of the people in many societies around the world still consider marriage as the ultimate goal of a girl’s life; denying her to enjoy her youth and aspire for her bright tomorrow.
According to stats, Pakistan has the sixth-highest number of absolute child brides; women married or in a union before the age of eighteen in the world. Child marriages are reportedly more prevalent in rural areas of Pakistan.
Early marriage is a prominent cause of girl’s high dropout from schools and high death ratio who do not have enough physical strength to give birth to a baby but lose their lives.
However, what can one expect for a child without a father in a society like ours? The little girl – Sarah was raised by her single mother in her maternal grandparents’ home. Her father died when she was about five years old ever since Sarah and her mother lived with her grandparents.
A man, in his mid-thirties, sent a marriage proposal for her –  three times older than that of her age. Rishta systems are also a very common custom in many societies across the globe including Balochistan where men send proposals for girls/women through the older members of their families to arrange marriages.
As Sarah’s grandfather was bearing her expenses of food, school, and everyday living, so just to recede his burdens, he decided to accept this proposal. Sarah’s mother didn’t have a say in this matter since she was dependant on her parents and she couldn’t go against her father. No one asked or even informed Sarah about this either. Until later.
After all the rituals were done, she was married off to the elderly man. She was prone to the battle of attrition. Sarah’s carefree and insouciant childhood changed into blind panics and fears.
The terror and pain of a physical relationship after her marriage changed this normal girl into an unstable and mentally ill child. She couldn’t bear the pain of being in a sexual relationship with her husband after her marriage who three times older than that of her age.
Martial rape – an act of sexual intercourse with one without the spouse’s consent – is not even considered violence in many parts of the society, but to see the little girl’s scenario, it can be summed up as a case of domestic violence and marital rape.
The little girl couldn’t stand any of this trauma and all this led her to a major mental instability. This little girl is presently suffering from severe mental disorders. On a monthly basis, she is taken to a psychiatrist. She lives a recluse life.
In the real sense of the word, marriage (early marriage) ruined her life. It robbed her of childhood pleasures and the dreams for her youth turned into myths.
The so-called social contracts put a halt to her mental development at a very early age. She isn’t the only one, but there are so many untold stories yet to be told. There are many Sarahs who undergo this pain.
Women are chosen as the favorite scapegoat in the name of so-called social norms. Atrocities for a woman are as changing as alternating seasons, each comes with a unique range of scent and blossom.
Every day we come across an incident where either a girl is denied to go to school, or married to a man older than her, either she is a victim of violence or is killed in the name of honor. Be it anything,  we have witnessed women being treated mercilessly, we have seen women being denied and the list goes on with the atrocities that every woman undergoes.
It is high time that we stand against such traditions which have been immiserating women’s life for over centuries. It is high time that we accept the fact that a woman has a life too and she should have the freedom to live her life fully. Every woman deserves a life free of intimidation, violence, and miseries.
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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