Again, no pictures due to the severity of the story. Instead, a link. Child brides are no longer just in demand, their number is rising. The country in question is Bangladesh, but little girls in other countries don’t fare too much better. The reason? Money: owing it, not having it, needing to pay it in the form of a dowry.
This is, of course, a very simplified version of what’s really going on. In order to really comprehend we’d have to look at the overall combination of socio-economically driven forces, religion, politics, history and culture. Religion always plays a role, a huge one, no matter which denomination you happen to identify with. And, of course, honor. Preserving your honor is always somehow at the heart of any matter. It’s why so many leaders are able to rouse their nations into wars. You deserve better, is the party line. Look at what they’ve done to your country. You must now rise to defend its honor, to preserve yours.
The country is always either female, or – in countries which do not really use gender, such as Finland and Hungary – has female connotations. Why your honor is so heavily tied to preserving purity of the female body around you is such an important matter is a question well worth asking the fanatics.
Education, and education of women at that, is of uttermost importance. It’s what drives any economy and advances it. And yet, in what we like to term Third World countries, we do previous little to advance the matter. We funnel money into a few organizations – some of which come under fire, others which try to do what they can where they can – and pretty much call it a day.
Here’s a novel idea. If girls are a burden because they cost money, and money is at the heart of the matter, couldn’t we funnel that money into specially-created boarding schools for them, ensuring opportunities for higher education and jobs once they graduate? Not to pamper them, that would be condescending, but providing them with life skills, ensuring they’re equipped for the competition, and giving them a very fair chance to enter the market that way, armed with knowledge, given a fair shot at the education process. Companies could then also mold future employees in their perfect image.
It’s (slightly) utopian, sure. But think about it this way, if we cover all the factors that drive parents into selling their daughters, would not a large percentage be okay with this solution, if we covered the cost, took the burden of feeding all those extra mouths for them, and even made sure the parents would have a pension plan in old age. Because those girls, due to cultural norms and expectations, are sure to help their parents in old age. And with the great jobs they have, those parents will be very comfortable.
One can dream after all.