Monday, February 6, 2012

Child Marriage - I AM NUJOOD, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui


Can you remember what you were doing when you were just ten years old?

Can you imagine yourself living in a world such as this? Your mother being married only when she was sixteen years old, and having had sixteen children of which some are miscarriages, some having died at birth due to illness, and those alive just struggling to survive.  Living in a culture where religion has given you an example of marriage to be exploited by the men of that culture - the Prophet Mohamad being married to Aisha who was just nine years old (I have not checked to make sure this is accurate, but this is what Nujood's father tells her).  Existing in a man dominated world where men are the ones who make all decisions and contracts.  A country where the legal age of marriage is only fifteen and the President dismisses raising the marrying age limit.  Being born and no form of identification or account of your age being documented. A place where the virginity of a young woman is highly sought after, and anything to the contrary, especially the rape by a stranger, is considered to taint the family name and honor.  A place where women have accepted to endure rather than fight for their rights, and they might even perpetuate the cycle of child marriage by condoning it.

Well if you can imagine it, you would most likely be married at around the age of ten (give or take a few years, maybe) like Nujood was - above is the account of her story in the book, in short anyway.

This is definitely a controversial topic.  But it's a world-wide phenomena.  National Geographic did a special on child marriages featuring marriages in India, Middle East, and China called 'Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides.'  I just want to write one excerpt that really sums up the gist of the position the book and this article take.

"The people who work full-time trying to prevent child marriage, and to improve women's lives in societies of rigid traditions, are the first to smack down the impertinent notion that anything about this endeavor is simple.  Forced early marriage thrives to this day in many regions of the world - arranged by parents for their own children, often in defiance of national laws, and understood by whole communities as an appropriate way for a young woman to grow up when the alternatives, especially if they carry a risk of losing her virginity to someone besides her husband, are unacceptable..."

"Child marriage spans continents, language, religion, caste."

"Some of these marriages are business transactions, barely adorned with additional rationale: a debt cleared in exchange for an 8-year-old bride; a family feud resolved by the delivery of a virginal 12-year-old cousin."


Both the book and the article beg the following questions.  Anthropologically speaking, would this story or stories be different in your frame of mind if they were viewed with cultural relativism?  That is, if viewed from the eyes of the people living in that culture, would it make sense that such a tradition would take place?  Is this a narrow view of the culture?  What other factors influence such a trend (poverty, lack of medical information, lack of education possibility, lack of economic stability)?  Sometimes, more often than not, it's easy to point the finger, say that it's wrong, and then make yourself the savior or activist to do something about it and make a change, but only the people of that culture know more closely how it all is.  

One of the great things about this book is the power of giving this young girl a voice.  She is given an opportunity to share her story with the world, and even more so that people hear it from her perspective rather than a foreigner's or outsider's.


VISIT MY ORIGINAL CHALLENGE ENTRY HERE




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