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Date [ 2014-06-03, 05:53 ]

In this day and age, it is sad and cruel to see child brides still in existence.

Child bride in Yemen

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Nancy Joseph = The practice of marrying off very young girls still takes place. Though most of them are poor third world countries, still it is no excuse to have them continuing. Poverty is given as one of the main reasons why these young children are shipped off to their in-laws homes. Various horror stories have emerged and here a team of experts give their opinion on what many consider a barbaric act.

Rachel Vogelstein (Council on Foreign Relations Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy): Every year there are 5 million girls married under the age of 15. Child marriage exists around the world. In South Asia, South-Saharan Africa, the Middle East to North Africa. It's across regions, it's across cultures, it's across religions.

Laura Laski (Chief of Sexual and Reproductive Health, United Nations Population Fund Child): Marriage is an abuse of human rights. Girls are married at an age in which they are supposed to be in school. They are supposed to be protected. And they are called to play the roles of adults when they are just girls.

Nice Nailantei Leng'ete (anti-FGM advocate in Masai community): When I was 8 years old and my sister was 10 years old, my uncle came to our grandfather's place. And he told him "I think now these girls are big enough for circumcision". So you know, you first have to be circumcised for you to get married.

We managed to escape for the first time, and then my uncle came. We were beaten and we had to tell him "Uncle, we promise that next time we are not going to run away".One day, if I get a girl, I think she is really going to enjoy all the rights I didn't enjoy. She's going to go to school. Definitely, she's not going to get circumcised, she's not going to get married. Well, if she wants to get married, it's fine. If she doesn't want to get married, that's it. I can't really force her. She's going to decide for herself what she wants.

Desmond Tutu (social rights activist and retired archbishop): These children went to sleep with old men, don't even know what they are going to be doing in bed. It is vicious.

Hooria Mashhour (Minister of Human Rights, Yemen): Traditionally, culturally, it is accepted. Especially in the rural areas, and also because of poverty. Poverty is the main reason for early marriage. When the family is very poor and they have many children, boys and girls, they prefer to send some of the female from the house to another family.

Isobel Coleman (Director, Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative): For the individual girl, it can be a time when her life changes dramatically. But when you magnify that across a whole county, you can see the impact that it has at a macro level. When girls are marrying below the age of 15, they are interrupting their education, too soon, they are reducing their economic potential in perpetuity, they are at much greater risk of dying, in child birth, of their infant dying in the first year of life; and are going to experience higher lifetime fertility, greater rates of poverty. And that really perpetuates a cycle of poverty for these countries.

Donald Steinberg (CEO, World Learning): Issues related to human security, issues like child marriage, are simply not soft issues. They are issues that can affect the stability of countries, they are issues that can affect the economical development of these countries.

They are every bit as dangerous as wars over natural resources or wars that result from cultural differences. We, as a global community, not only have a moral interest in protecting young girls in particular. But we have our own security interests at heart.

Hillary Clinton (former Secretary of State, US): The evidence shows us and commonsense shows us as well, that education can delay and even prevent child marriage. It can raise incomes and it can certainly improve health.

abc@koreanpress.net

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