Thursday, 11 October 2012

Child Bride #dayofthegirl

When I was 20 I made a massive decision. I decided to get married. I got married one month after my 21st birthday. My mother was so upset, although my parents supported me. She felt I was wasting my potential, settling down too soon, not living the life she wanted for me.

And you know what, I now know at the age of 40 she was spot on. There was no rush, I wasn't going to be left on the shelf, there's a big wide world out there and a life there for the taking. It wasn't until I was almost 30 that I finally freed myself legally from a disasterous, abusive relationship that could have ended in tragedy - though I had fled many years earlier. A story I have never told fully, and am not sure its for this blog. Suffice to say that I married an older man, who wasn't emotionally mature. The worst moment of my marriage was finding out I was pregnant. He laid his hands on my stomach and prayed. That God would decide. The following day I started to bleed and lost my baby. That spelled the end for me, and I was moved out with the help of Tasmania Police and some kind and loving friends.

Today is an important day, it is the first ever International Day of the Girl. World Vision has asked us to tell you the story of girls, marrying too soon, losing their potential, living a life they do not wish to live. These girls are not marrying for misguided love, they are forced, as girls, to marry often older men. I made my own choice, no one forced me, but I can relate so much to these young girls, living a life not of their choosing or making. The importance of personal autonomy cannot be understimated.

Each day an estimated 24,500 girls will marry before reaching their 18th birthdays. At current rates, 100 million girls will marry as children in the next decade. This is a staggering loss of potential.

We know, from my work for the #borntoosoon campaign that having children too soon is a leading cause of prematurity in the developing world. We also know that poor spacing out of pregnancies is another cause. These children are having children, living lives of poverty that we cannot hope to understand or grasp. Very often they lose babies. I had miscarriages at 23 and 27. I didn't have the emotional maturity to deal with this, how can a 15 year old? Or even younger.

Children need the chance to be children. To play, to get their education, to experience decision making and choice, to find their own destiny and path in this world. Getting married too young isn't healthy and as Amira's story proves, in their own countries, is often not legal. Amira was saved by the laws of her country, facilitated by World Vision, and now has what we have ample of in our own communities......choice.

How can you help?

One way of making a difference to a life of a girl is through child sponsorship. I am "auntie" to a boy from Niger, with three other bloggers, but hope to form a similar coalition to sponsor a girl. If you are interested please message me and we can arrange something. To sponsor a child is under  £25 per month, if 5 of us got together we could sponsor a girl.

By alleviating poverty, you give a girl, and their family, choices. They don't need to get their daughter married off, and she can complete her education. It's so important. 

You can tweet, share and campaign. Already there is a buzz on Twitter, and you will see a lot of tweets during the day, it would be great to get as many voices as we can together on this.

You can find World Vision UK on Twitter here.
World Vision UK can be found on Facebook here

Please join us and help end enforced child marriage, let girls be girls, let women marry - not children.


  1. Kayla, World Vision UK11 October 2012 at 09:53

    Thank you Kylie for your openness and honesty, and using this to call for an end to this harmful practice for Day of the Girl. Thank you!