The Reality of Underage Marriage

by Allison Peterson

Many people in America live sheltered lives. Water comes out of the faucet, a place for our trash to go, a reliable sewage system, and a dependable government structure are all things we rely on daily. But the moment you step across the border, life is a lot different. People do go hungry. There are massacres. Some people live in houses held together by some wood and plastic. Some children die from diseases they get because they do not have shoes to wear. Others drink contaminated water that they walked all day to get for their family, and in doing so were not able to attend school. All this was a shock to me when I got off of a plane in a third-world country when I was 16 years old. Perhaps the biggest shock to me was meeting a young woman of my

same age, who has lived a very different life than I have. That day I learned that underage marriage is real. In 2017 UNICEF reported a shocking 4% of girls in Kenya are married before their fifteenth birthday, and an even higher 23% are married before they turn eighteen. Several other countries around the world have similar and, in some cases, higher numbers. Ethiopia reports 41% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, Nigeria reports 43%, and India reports a sickening 47%. Millions of people not so different from you and me are victims of underage marriage. As we go on in our comfortable lives, let us remember what the world is like. Let their voices be heard.


Photo by Gina Tigere on Unsplash


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Girls Not Brides. (2018, December 18). Kenya - Child Marriage Around the World. Girls Not

Brides. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-

marriage/kenya/


Child marriage in Africa. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/09/22/child-marriage-in-africa


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