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The pressing issue of child marriage continues to be a dominant oppressive matter in African females. Males are powered in cultural ways that females in Africa will never be able to currently achieve. Girls tend to be pulled out of school during a critical age of their development due to marital responsibilities. Primary and secondary school education is prime knowledge for girls to gain the skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty. It is a common practice caused by multiple factors that tend to result in school droppage.
First, it derives from gender inequality. Much like the rest of the world, women and girls are valued significantly less than males. They often have little to no voice in their decision’s, resulting in their silence, lack of confidence, and knowledge. The interpersonal domain can be used to describe the relationship of males to females. Essentially, males are advantaged in educational and marital ways, where women are disadvantaged since they are not given the same educational opportunities as males and are forced into marriage at a young age.
Child brides are minors and are rarely ever given the chance to voice their opinion such as practicing safe sex. These are factors of an increase of HIV. Radical feminism is a key theory assuming patriarchy and male dominance. Since gender inequality is prominent due to men’s control of women’s reproduction and sexuality, it ultimately relates to women’s economic dependence on men. This is one of the most intersectional and oppressive reasons for girl’s education. Essentially, the only way women can escape this form of oppression is to control the means of reproduction.
Secondly, it is linked to family honor. It is seen as a way to control a female’s sexuality and virginity to protect their family nobility. Essentially, this barricades the stigma of pregnancy before marriage which is highly shamed and looked down upon in Africa. Since pregnancy tends to happen after marriage, almost 60 percent of school-going girls ceased their studies due to discouragement and negative stigma of their early pregnancies.
Lastly, child marital is influenced by their socio-economic environment. Due to living in poverty-induced and rural areas, girls have little to no education. Underprivileged families tend to see early marriage as an escape from poverty and an opportunity for their daughter’s future. Thus, they will gain more respect as a status married woman. Girls often have little choice and alternative since they have low quality education or low access to jobs. Additionally, due to high rates of poverty, families have no choice but to sell their daughters off to wealthier men looking for young brides. It continues to be a critical challenge we face today, with more and more child brides being sold off to older males.
All 3 of these factors contribute to the high dropout rate of females in Africa’s education system. In comparison, child marital affects their education since they are more likely to drop out than their peers who marry later. Not only does this affect their education and health, but it also affects their ability to earn a financially stable life. Girls who marry earlier tend to lead to higher fertility rates and population growth. According to the World Bank, the impact of child marriage results in higher risk of partner violence and the mortality and welfare of the children of young mothers.
Since young brides don’t have the education they need, they do not know how to care for their children properly, ultimately leading to stunting or malnutrition of their children. Not only does child marriage affect the females personally, but it also costs African countries tens of billions of dollars in lost earnings and human capital. Ultimately, this could generate more than $500 billion dollars annually. Although child marriage may not always be the reason for lack of education, girls tend to leave school prior to marriage when their matrimonial demands increase.
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