Child Marriage in South Asia
By Janani Shivakumar, Founder & President
Child marriage has been prevalent for centuries in many countries, but a lot of people are unaware that it still exists to this day in the South Asian region. South Asia has the highest rates of child marriage in the world(UNICEF). Although we have come a long way in battling this dreadful issue, girls in rural parts of countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc. continue to become victims of this issue.
In such countries, pursuing a higher education is often out of the picture for many girls due to socioeconomic factors. Families tend to get their daughters married immediately after high school or even before that as they do not see value in educating a girl or do not have the means to provide further care. However, as an organization that uses sports to empower girls in rural parts of the world, we understand the power of sports to create change in a girl’s life.
Colleges tend to have a sports quota in order for athletes that belong to a lower economic background to attend, but girls have often not been able to make use of this due to their lack of presence in sports at a young age. Our organization provides free soccer training to girls in rural areas to improve their self-confidence which will ultimately help them stand up for their rights and give them a much better chance of going to college and preventing early marriage.
Girls involved in child marriage often become victims of exploitation and abuse. These issues require a shift in mindset, social norms, and policy making, which will only happen if we demand change and speak up against injustices. Let’s use our privilege for good and empower girls so we can shift the norm and battle gender biases to prevent girls from falling prey to child marriage.