The International Day of the Girl Child

Five year old India girl carried to her own wedding at the dead of night as child marriages are illegal in India. 
At age 11, a young Afghan girl is married off to a 40 year old man, making her only one  of more than 10 million young girls who are being forced to wed men old enough to be their fathers or grandfathers every year. . .  Although child marriage is against the law in many countries, and international treaties forbid the practice, is is estimated that about 51 million girls below the age of 18 are currently married. In Afghanistan alone, it is believed that approximately 57 percent of girls wed before the legal age of 16. (source)

The 11th of October was the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of this day was to remind those more fortunate of the millions of young girls around the world that are denied a childhood, an education, forced to marry at a very young age, victims of abuse and violence, having their futures determine by others, defenceless and suffering in silence as they have no voice.  

Many of these young girls are denied an education as they are not considered worthy enough to receive one. Education is vital for all girls, but even more so in those countries that mistreat the female population. The knowledge and skills gained from education gives them the ability to read and write, to gain better access to health care, gain employment which in turns gives them greater independence and allows them to make decisions in their own lives, rather than the forced decisions made by others who are more likely to exploit them. 

Girls living in these third world countries are less likely to marry young if they are receiving an education. According to the United Nations, preventing child marriages protects the rights of girls, helps reduce their risk of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability (often as a result of pregnancy), including obstetric fistula. Girls who stay at school longer build a much stronger foundation for themselves and for their families. 

Here is some sad statistics: every 3 seconds another girl becomes a child bride, 1 out of 3 become a bride before the age of 8 and 70,000 girls before the age of 18 die during pregnancy or child birth related complications.  Having a baby can be a death sentence for these girls. (Source, Dr Flavia Bustreo WHO)

Women in western countries tend to take their situation for granted.  Our girls have access to education and can go on to higher education (an impossible dream for millions of girls and women around the world), our girls can make decisions about their own lives.  They can dream of becoming a doctor or nurse, these young girls living in poverty do not have such options, they are trapped with no way out.  We mustn't forget their suffering.  We are quick to complain about our governments, but we have no idea of what it would be like to be a girl in some of these countries.  

This young girl wanted to become a school teacher one day. Instead she is now married with not say over her future. Those girls who do escape from their husbands end up living in poverty or worse.  Some turn to prostitute to earn an income and become subjected to horrific abuse. 

All girls should be allow to dream, to be able to decide their future and this should not be stolen or determined by others. 

Photography by Stephanie Sinclair (National Geographic article)
Source: United Nations and World Health Organisation


  1. And girls are forced to be soldiers in 33 countries worldwide & forced into battle with their babies strapped to their backs. What is wrong with us as human beings that we do such things to our children?

  2. And I didn't even mention honour killings that are approved by the parents and often carried out by a parent or brother. Their family honour is greater than their love for their daughters. I can't comprehend why and how a parent can behavior in this barbaric manner.

  3. Each time I read an article on this subject I feel sick to the stomach. We cannot begin to imagine the lives endured by so many women around the world. As you wrote Jo, often girls in these cultures take it for granted and do not have the dreams and expectations that we have.
    "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it" is the only answer to Ganeida's lament. That is what is wrong with us.

  4. This is just awful. :( I can't stop thinking about my own little 8 year old daughter - the thought of her being treated in this way is simply horrific and sad. Tragic. :(


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