When Gulbano was married, she was hardly 15 years old. She lived in a far-flung village in district Kech and her parents belonged to a very poor family and un-educated. One year after marriage she became pregnant but couldn,t be sent to any hospital for regular checking since the nearest hospital with gynecological facilities was 120 K.M. away from her village. When her delivery time came, a local ‘Dai’ attended her. Due to complications, the ‘Dai’ could not manage her and having no other option she was shifted to the district hospital located in Turbat City in a private Van. Unfortunately,she expired before reaching to the hospital.
“Gulbano’sstory is not an isolated one! In far flung villages of Balochistan, it is common to hear expiry of newly married girls at the time of their first delivery.In most of the cases, both the mother and newborn expire, in some cases, one of the two survives. The main reason for these fatal deathsis girls’marriage at early age.
The problem of child marriage which has been declared by the UN a fundamental violation of Human Rights, is a Universal Phenomenon which is prevailing almost in all the countries of the world, however, the extent and magnitude of this problem varies. As a general rule, it is more common in the most backward and least developed countries of the world but even the developed and most advanced countries are not completely free from this social evil. The UNICIF Global Data Base (2018) shows that child marriage among girls is most common in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, Niger accounts for the highest overall prevalence of the child marriage in the world.
The UNICIF’sglobal data is based on the information of the women aged 20 to 24 years who were 1st married or were in union at the age of up to 15years and 18 years. It was found that 1 in 5 young women between the age of 20 to 24 married before their 18th birthday. In case of young men, the ratio was 1 in 30. In case of Pakistan it was found that 3% of the girls who were surveyed had married by the age of 15 years while 21% married by the age of 18 years.
In case of Balochistan the ratio must be much higher but so far no focused study has been made in case of Balochistan.
What is child Marriage
The Wikipedia defines child marriage as any formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 years and an adult or another child, The UNICIF says that child marriage is a violation of human right, regardless of sex; however, it is more common in girls. The UNICIF has warned that at present yearly approx. 12(Mill) girls are married before the age of 18 years which means 23 girls each minute. If this trend is not corrected then by the year 2030 more than 150 million girls are estimated to marry before their 18th birth day.
Causes of child marriage
It has been analyzed that the two major causes of child marriage are economic and educational backwardness; however, in some societies cultural norms and customs also encourage child marriage. We often hear parents saying; “I want to see the wedding of my son or daughter during my life”. Others many do so with the hope that their children will be better taken care of after their marriage.
Impact of Child Marriage
|Dr. Muneer Ahmed Baloch|
The impact of child marriage is similar to other social crimes. There are physiological, economical and psychological impacts. According to Dr. Muneer Ahmed Baloch, former Dy. District Health Officer Makran, the clinical and physiological impacts of early marriage varies from anaemia to pre-mature death. In almost all cases, the girls marrying at an early age will become physically fragile, weak and become old much earlier. The child bride becomes pregnant during her adolescence; which is the cause of a lot of complications during pregnancy and at the time of delivery. This coupled with the unavailability of proper medical care may result in the expiry of the young mother or the neunate or both. Even if she survives, she may suffer from a no of other diseases such as infertility, retarted growth, emotional Trauma, and even cervical cancer. The economic impacts come into effect due to early fatherhood of the underage boy who feels the pressure to feed and protect a family at a time when he has not completed his education and has not developed any skills. It also affects the girls who after marrying would be compelled not only to cut short their education but also to be involved with the household works; thus not contributing any thing in the economic field.
|Dr. Taj Baloch|
The psychological impacts may be even worse than the physiological and economical, onesalthough in many cases these may not be visible. Dr. Taj Baloch, Ex District Health Officer, Makran who is a specialist in psychological disorders and has done a lot of works onthese issues is of the view that early marriage may create very long term negative impact on the personality and behavior of the Child, especially girlchild which she will carry during her entire life span, These impacts would significantly affect the mental health of the affectees and create a lot of behavioral syndromes.
Balochistan being the most backward province, both in terms of education and economic development is ahead in cases of child marriage as compared to other province of Pakistan.
Although there has been some improvement in a few districts, where female education has improved to some extent e.g. District Kech, the overall position is almost same. The undersigned had conducted a small survey of twovillages of Makran division and the result were very alarming. In one village, Nazarabad, Five young girls died in one year during birth pains and all of them had been married at early age. In another village, Asiabad, two girls had died and one had suffered permanent disability. The main cause appeared to be the same. Dr. Muneer Ahmed is of the view that all these cases could be managed if they could be registered in a facility and given in time treatment. According to his estimation, almost 50% of girls who get married at an early age, suffer from death or permanent disability in the villages where no maternity homes are available.
It is unfortunate that in spite of being one of the gravest problems, no steps are being taken to prevent it, either at governmental level or at community level. Even proper studies are not being conducted to understand the seriousness of the problem. All these deaths and diseases are being treated as ‘God-Given’ and are being ignored. For example, in the entire Makran Division there is not a single body or department engaged with this issue.
Under these circumstances, there are no chances of getting any relief from this problem in the coming years.