In the June issue of National Geographic, writer Cynthia Gorney takes an in-depth look at the illicit, heartbreaking world of child brides. Though the practice often defies national laws, child marriage is still understood by communities around the globe as an appropriate route for young women, especially when the alternatives are even more bleak. As her report states:
Child marriage spans continents, language, religion, caste. In India the girls will typically be attached to boys four or five years older; in Yemen, Afghanistan, and other countries with high early marriage rates, the husbands may be young men or middle-aged widowers or abductors who rape first and claim their victims as wives afterward, as is the practice in certain regions of Ethiopia. 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. Those, when they happen to surface publicly, make for clear and outrage-inducing news fodder from great distances away. The 2008 drama of Nujood Ali, the 10-year-old Yemeni girl who found her way alone to an urban courthouse to request a divorce from the man in his 30s her father had forced her to marry, generated worldwide headlines and more recently a book, translated into 30 languages: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.
Read the full article by Cynthia Gorney in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands May 31.