Let's End Child Marriage and Forced Marriage
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The marriage age needs to be raised to 18 in each and every state in the USA and forced marriage needs to be criminalized, just like it is in the UK. We’re not doing enough to protect our kids, and I find it appalling that as of September, 2020 - only four states in the USA have raised the marriage age to 18, and those are New Jersey, Delaware, and most recently, Pennsylvania and then Minnesota! Everywhere else kids can get married at varying ages - 15, 16 and 17. Judges allow it when they see a parents consent, but I need to let it be know this is where the problem lies. Too often, it’s the parents who are coercing their children into marriage, so why are judges not better informed? Please see my blog post for more info on this - the link is below.
Kids should be able to enjoy their childhood. No child needs to get married. I was engaged at the age of 14, and even though the marriage didn’t take place until I was 18, it had all the elements of child marriage. I was not free to choose. I couldn’t say no. I was too young to know what was happening or to fight for my rights. My human rights were violated, and my freedom to choose was taken away from me. I was forced to marry a stranger, and was put into danger. This happened to me not in India, but in the UK (see my video here: Forced Marriage Is A Terrible Human Rights Violation). The picture that I've added on this page is of me on my so called "honeymoon" at age 18. Pictures are not always what they seem, the place could be the most beautiful in the world, but the heart can still be so very sad.
I was shown a photo of a boy when I was only 14. He was the one my mum wanted me to get married to. I really had no opportunity to say "no", and was therefore engaged to him. I was brought up in a strict Punjabi household, where I was subservient and couldn't answer back. I had no voice, and couldn't speak my mind. This happened in the UK. Even though I got married at 18, it had all the elements of child marriage as I was promised to him from an early age. No child knows what is best for them at 14, they trust their parents. Very often, parents are the ones inflicting abuse in the name of culture or tradition, but they don't realize this is what they are doing. It is no one's culture to abuse, and this has to stop. I tried to run away at 18, but went back home when I was told a family member was ill - it was just a trick to get me home, and then I succumbed to the pressure and the guilt.
I thought it was an arranged marriage and that it was part of my culture, but later found out it was really a forced marriage as I didn't want it, but I was coerced into it. The terminology that was always used was "arranged marriage". No one is going to say "we are arranging a forced marriage". I want it to be known that many arranged marriages are really forced marriages when one or both of the parties does not fully consent or is not able to do so (because of age, etc.).
No one should be put into this situation, but so many are. I wasn't even allowed to go to college as I was told I was getting married and there was no point. I was unhappy on my wedding day, and when I told him after the marriage that I didn't want to be in the marriage with him, he turned violent and abused me. He also tried to kill me. My parents still took his side as he was now my husband and their new son. I was inferior even though I was their daughter. I got away from him after 6 weeks, but at what cost? There was a huge cost. This is not the way to start your life. We all need to stop this. No child should get married to a stranger, and be put into danger. We need to get the word out that forced marriages are a form of human trafficking, and it's slavery and abuse. Forced marriages and all child marriages involve abuse, and rape. We were not just born to get married, we deserve so much more. We shouldn’t be used for immigration purposes either to allow the other spouse the right to reside in the UK or USA, and then get citizenship eventually at our cost! I’d like it to be known that we want education first, then marriage.
As an important note to this, I do not blame my parents, and realize they were just following a tradition, and were trying to do the best for me. I have forgiven them, but want to stop this cycle of abuse, so no one else suffers what I suffered and what so many other girls have suffered, and for that matter - boys too. Boys are also victims of forced marriage. I was silent for so many years, but now I've realized I need to break the silence.
Forced marriage and child marriage are happening all over the world, including right here in the USA. I'm asking for it to stop not only in California where I now live, but want it to stop everywhere in the USA and all over the world too.
If we don't stop forced marriage and child marriage, there will be more honor killings happening all over the world and that includes the USA too. Yes, honor killings happen here, no place is immune to atrocities and human rights abuses. Most recently, on August 26, 2020 there was fabulous news that Yaser Said who was on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List for murdering his two teenage daughters in Texas was finally captured after 12 years. I'm so happy that he was finally caught as all his daughters ever wanted was freedom and to not be forced into marriage. If we don't tell our stories, murders like theirs will continue, but we have to let it be known - it's not just a murder, it's more than that - it's an honor killing, and until we bring more awareness to these types of murders, we will not be able to stop the root cause of the murders. What is the root cause? Forced marriage! Now, I hope you understand why forced marriage and child marriage have to stop and be made illegal.
Please join me in the fight to end child marriage and end forced marriage. Please sign my petition and share it as much as possible: www.change.org/EndChildMarriageAndEndForcedMarriage
For more information and references, including links to 3 other important petitions to stop child marriage, and to see who the organizations are that are working on ending these human rights abuses, please see my blog post.
Again, I’m asking for the marriage age to be raised to 18 in California, but this needs to occur in each and every state in the USA and forced marriage needs to be criminalized, just like it is in the UK. Only when it’s criminalized will parents be deterred from doing this to their children.
Let's #BreakTheSilence. Join the movement to #EndChildMarriage and #EndForcedMarriage. Culture is No Excuse for Abuse!
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