I don’t know if any of you have been paying attention to the latest “we must protect our children” social media craze. It showed up a few days ago in my news feed. Child brides and oh the outrage.
I get it. As a white female raised in a westernized country, the idea of being a child bride is abhorrent to me. So I have to look it at without those entitlement glasses. Most westerners see child brides as sexual abuse. The truth is more interesting and diverse. Most child brides are business arrangements or to improve the standing of the family with the child bride. Or both.
Improved economic standing is a huge motivator. Most of the families are dirt poor. Just a day’s wage from complete financial ruin. Having children is a financial strain as is birth control, if their religions even allow for such a thing. Securing your 12 year old daughter a husband, means she goes to live with him and seriously, you aren’t going to marry her to someone else that is dirt poor, so she sees a significant increase in wealth after being married and possibly social standing. No more searching for meals or making due with moldy bread and water for dinner. The family also finds financial relief because they have one less mouth to feed.
Then there’s the real business collateral that can be made from a child bride. You own a store in a poor section of the town. However, Mr. T comes along and tells you he’ll pay you to marry your daughter, not just pay you a one time lump sum of money, but two more stores in better neighborhoods. Suddenly your profits have increased, as has the social standing of everyone in your family.
People often forget that until the 1950s, child brides were commonplace in the US and children were property to use as parents saw fit. The majority of us have an ancestor or two that was used to improve the standing of everyone in their family and provide some financial gain. So while we stand in judgment of places that still do this, we really don’t have any moral high ground to stand on. Furthermore, is it really better to condemn the child to a life of poverty and possible starvation than to allow her to be a child bride?
And people talk about the child not being of age to consent… but a lot of these places, a female never reaches the age of consent, because nobody gives a damn what she thinks or wants anyway. And we aren’t pointing fingers just at countries in the Middle East. The video everyone is so outraged about comes from Latvia or Lithuania, one of those border countries of Russia… meaning Europe. However, if you really wanted to make a list, France, US, Canada, UK, Australia, and Germany are the countries where women experience the most freedom. Almost everywhere else, women are property, especially a female child.
I don’t agree with it, but I’m not willing to spout off about how wrong they are in their beliefs, because they could do the same about me. Hell, some people do. I didn’t change my last name when I got married. My husband told me keeping my last name didn’t make me any less married.
The primary motivation was tedium and money. I am technically a small publishing house. I would have had to change all my business paperwork and that involved a slew of fees. Not to mention filling out all that paperwork again just so it showed my new last name. And while the practice is not unheard of in the US, I still get comments from people about it. I can’t imagine what sort of comments I would get if I lived in a more traditional community.