First International day of the Girl Child
“I got married when I was 18. There was a time when I was a child, a young woman, a woman and a mother, which is not the case with most of my female friends. They changed straight from the role of a little girl, 14-15 years old, to a woman and then soon to a mother. So the time when they were young girls – did not exist.” (I, 27, Serbia)
No girl should be forced to marry, rights experts urge on the International Day on the Girl Child.
Every year an estimate of 10 million girls are married before they reach 18. Child marriage cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. “Girls who are forced to marry are committed to being in slavery like marriages for the rest of their lives….“ UN human rights experts today stress that forced early marriages cannot be justified on traditional, religious, cultural or economic grounds and should be criminalized.
Early marriages are prevailing among Romani girls across Europe and beyond it. For example in Serbia 14% of Roma girls get married under the age of 15, every third has her first child before she reaches majority. Romani girls are more affected by child marriages than Romani boys, as girls are expected to marry early and often with teenagers over 16 or adult men. Traditional, arranged Romani marriages of Romani girls often involve virginity testing, an invasive and in most if not all cases degrading practice. We all know that Romani girls are generally expected to move to the groom’s house after the wedding and become part of his family. They are also expected to work day and night.
Child marriage frequently precludes girls from attending school and therefore results in very little emplyoment opportunities in the future. In Montenegro, according to a study, “Roma girls often must leave school very early in order to remain virgins while they prepare for an early marriage and begin performing their household duties.
Follow for more information on the Girld Child day the United Nation website.