Recently, an eight-year-old girl died in Yemen. Normally, this story would not blanket news channels like CNN, CBC and CTV because of the frequency that it happens across the world. What if I told you that the same girl died on her wedding night from internal bleeding after her marriage to a man of 40?
What’s the big deal though, right? Young moms are all the rage now; they have become a source of entertainment for our generation to look up to. It seems like the younger the mom, the more publicity they receive. Music television has certainly made this kind of culture glamorous.
And yet, media was outraged by the story in Yemen. Twitter, Facebook and CNN exploded with people who were disgusted and an outcry was set forth to end the practice of marrying children to adults all over the world. Some media followers claimed that Yemen is a sick culture that allows children to marry at the age of eight; others begged the question of why to cause a commotion if it is a part of a culture that has survived for 100s of years.
Pause for a second.
It is unbelievably troubling that it took the death of this innocent eight-year-old girl to bring forth the outrage against child marriage. Children have been passed off for brides to enhance a family’s situation for centuries. It seems that only when something bad happens, society takes note.
I agree, it is outlandish that a child of eight is married to a man five times her age but I wonder how many other girls were married at a young age. How many other young girls suffered from abuse and a lack of education? To die on one’s wedding night from internal bleeding is a death to which no one should ever succumb.
It seems to be a habit of society and the media to only care when something bad happens in extreme forms. This little girl gained no attention by being married off to a 40-year-old but did create headlines when she died.
Now, we as a society and media-based culture look to Yemen to account for the actions of those involved. The terrible reality of this situation is that this impoverished nation needs to sacrifice everything, including their children, to survive.
It’s not right and it’s not okay but it’s the simple truth. Focusing on this poor child’s death is only worthwhile if the problem at hand is dealt with and prevented. Her death won’t be for naught if changes are made to prevent future deaths like this one.
Our culture is so focused on publicizing our teen moms, making them into entertaining shows, that we don’t focus on the girls who do not have a choice. It’s ironic that we don’t hold our teen moms accountable for their actions but we will hold a whole culture responsible for trying to survive. Something is wrong here.
The simple truth is that child marriage is far from right. All girls deserve a choice in their lives, whether it has to do with what education they choose or with whom they choose to spend their lives. Girls need to be given these choices.
Western culture has not helped create an environment or awareness that assists girls who are less fortunate to thrive or to gain rights as women. Instead, we produce shows and images of women that if anything encourages the opposite.
Indeed, the ultimate downfall of our society is that we have not extended our knowledge and power to those who need it. Instead, our culture has clearly taken advantage of our position in the world, and neglects those who often need us most.
Hopefully Yemen has learned something from this terrible event and will make efforts to change their political and cultural systems to prevent the future deaths of young girls.
Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor