Let Children Play

In my tender age, my father told me that he wouldn’t claim the hectares of land, he would inherit from his parents for he was giving everything to my uncle.  Thus, he constantly reminded me that he couldn’t give me anything aside from a good education.   Among all my siblings, I was the one always reminded because my carefree and indolent attitude towards school worried him.  In spite of my poor study habits, I still made him proud and he knew I excelled even I hid the details from him.   He didn’t pressure me to study hard or forced me to do all household chores, instead he allowed me to play and had fun.  Papa never said I should marry a rich and educated man.  Though I didn’t make a big deal with it, still he had hints about those boys I am interested or the other way around.  He never judged any of them.  He would just say, ‘as long as I am happy’ and he didn’t mind I settle down ‘as long as I completed my degree’.

My papa was not highly educated and he was born in a mountainous area where fix marriage was not an issue.  Moreover, he taught me the value of education and respected my choices and happiness.  He didn’t control me instead guided me the way to the right direction.

Nonetheless, not all fathers around the world are like my papa.  When my friend shared to me the story of an eight-year old bride who died in her wedding night, my heart was pierced with mercy for the child. I was so outraged to the adults who irresponsibly placed her in such situation.  She’s not the only young bride in the world for there are many young girls like her.  As I read the story of that pitiful innocent girl and learned about others, my feminist activist blood was boiling inside me.  I don’t think that the minds and bodies of those girls are ready for the reality of marriage and responsibilities of being a wife to her husband. I am an avid advocate of equality and fair treatment among women.  So, I believe that something should be done to save these female children from those predators and harsh culture or traditional practices.

The issue really haunted me, so I browsed more facts online with these unjust and cruel reality happening to children across the globe.   Then, I stumbled in the article of  Stephanie Sinclair (Stephanie Sinclair’s best photograph: child brides in Yemen), a photo journalist.  She wrote about two Yemeni girls who were married as young as the age of eight.  I couldn’t help wondering if these girls really enjoyed the beauty of childhood and how it felt to run as free as the wind.  Did they even have dolls in stead of looking forward to raise of children not far from their age?  Perhaps, they were so scared in the hands of those abusive paedophiles.

I remembered a scary experience I had when I was in Primary four.  It was after afternoon lessons, I took a public transport.   My house was the last stop and I am the last passenger.  The driver talked to me in a perverted way and I was not comfortable with the conversation.  The way he smiled and looked at me, really gave me goosebumps.  When it was my stop, I ran as fast as I could and told my parents how the driver verbally took advances at me.   I am lucky for I was raised to be strong in spite of my innocent looks.  From then on, I’d rather walked home with my friends than take public transports.  Hence, I was awaken to the reality that barbaric men existed and I must protect myself against them.

On the contrary, there are girls in Yemen, India, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and other places who had no choice.   If some parents surprised their daughters with dolls or toys, these young girls got nothing only older husbands.  Even if against their will, they cannot run.  Worst fact, no parents shield them from the horrors of getting married in their delicate age because the wedding was with their parents’ consent or permission (Ten worst places for child marriage).

Who will save these girls and more girls that will soon face such terrible situation?  If they escape such nightmare, where will they go?   How are these young girls are  treated by those adult males who wed them, were they like their objects or subjects?  These young girls deserve good education and better lives who can also contribute to their communities.  The law should protect these young girls and they should be given same opportunities as of those males.

They are not those sexual predators’ toys.   No one own them.  Their souls and minds don’t belong to their parents.   They are entitled of their rights and free to make their choices.   Those little girl should enjoy children games and laugh with their friends.   All girls in the world, no matter how poor they are, each one should enjoy the different stages of growing up.   Everyone should experience the chuckles of childhood and thrills of adolescence; not obliged to be on someone’s bed and treated nothing more like a slave.

yemen brides

image source: http://www.emirates247.com  “Yemeni cleric campaigns against child brides ban”, published Sunday, April 25, 2010

National Geographic Live! : Too Young to Wed

I salute this brave girl!!!

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