What’s the legal age of marriage where you live?  Have you ever considered that question?  

In most states in the U.S. it’s eighteen.  However, in many states it’s legal to get married if you’re younger than eighteen and your parents consent.  For example, with parental consent a girl can be married in…

Massachusetts at twelve!
New Hampshire at thirteen!
Mississippi at fifteen!

Almost every other state in the nation permits children to be married at the age of sixteen if their parent consents.

What century are we living in???

How many of you would like to see your daughter or son married at sixteen? Like they don’t have enough challenges just navigating the teen years.

Although in the United States child marriage is less common, sadly, in many parts of the world it’s accepted as normal.  And in most cases the child being married off has no say in the matter.  Anyone else think it’s time to change that?

You won’t want to miss the kick-off of our February Film Festival tomorrow at Noon CST with our first screening entitled, “Rights Not Roses:  Ending child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan.

In this episode we meet Rukhshanda Naz, a dynamic human rights attorney and passionate advocate for ending child, early, and forced marriage. Rukhshanda shares how growing up with a mother who experienced early marriage and an elder sister who was forced to marry early informed her own experiences and continues to fuel her activism and professional life today. Rukhshanda and other activists in Pakistan are working together to challenge longstanding cultural norms, push back against religious fundamentalists, and end child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan.

We also meet Zarmina, who experienced early marriage and safely escaped with support from Noor Education Trust, a grassroots organization that runs shelters for girls while providing legal, medical, and psychosocial services; workshops on gender-based violence and women’s rights; educational classes; and more. Zarmina’s parents arranged for her marriage at age 13 to an older man. He then physically abused her, until her parents discovered the abuse and helped remove her from the marriage.

Child, early, and forced marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Girls experience early marriage in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to the US. One in five girls in the world are said to be married before 18. Over 650 million women alive today were married as children.

Child, early, and forced marriage robs girls of their freedom, education, and dreams and is a deeply entrenched practice due in part to the combination of religious fundamentalism, patriarchy, and cultural and traditional practices. There is a growing awareness among researchers and activists that control of adolescent girls’ sexuality is a driving force behind child, early, and forced marriage and unions. Controlling women’s and girls’ life choices is how the system of patriarchy is sustained.

Don’t miss this eye-opening documentary and discussion.  You are needed and Now is our time!

Be bold.  Be Daring.  Be AWE-dacious!!

P.S.  We will be hosting the Fundamental film series on Wednesdays in February.  It is a joint production from Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the non-profit Global Fund for Women. At a time of unprecedented political uprisings around the globe, Fundamental introduces global audiences to grassroots movements and community leaders who are standing up for our fundamental human rights and working to hold governments accountable for healthier and more just societies for all.