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Being Married As A Child Causes Mental Illness

September 14, 2011
NIH Child_sexual_abuse disorders graph

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It’s true:  being married can lead to mental illness for women, particularly if they were married young, as teenagers.  In fact, marriage can act as a trauma.

“What we think, based on this work, is that the impact of being married as a child may act as a trauma, as a stressor, that maybe precipitates a mental-health issue later on,” said study co-author Bernard Le Foll, a clinical scientist with the centre.

The researchers concluded that these women need psychiatric support, but did not study what kind of support that would be, or why child marriage could be traumatic in the first place.

“What we don’t know is what was the exact context of those child marriages,” Le Foll said. “We don’t know (how many were) done under pressure without the full will of the woman. I think that is a very important factor, but we could not assess this in this study.”

I think the commentator here, a man, is an idiot.  How can any woman give “full will” if she is not old enough to even consent? Child marriage, in some cases as young as 12 or 13, is in no way a consensual relationship.  Even if there is “pressure,” otherwise known as child rape, forcing children to have sex under the guise of “marriage,” there is no freedom of will for the child much less the grown woman’s consent.

In the same vein, this lead in to the next part of the study is misleading too, saying that “women” who get married before age 18, that whole pesky thing about being a legal adult definition escaped the writer, have a higher risk of mental illness.

Their study, published in this week’s issue of the journal Pediatrics, suggests that women who walk down the aisle before they turn 18 are 41 per cent more likely to develop psychiatric disorders, such as panic disorder, bipolar disorder and depression. They are also at a higher risk of nicotine dependence.

Demographic factors associated with child marriage were black or “American Indian/Alaska native” ethnicities, low levels of education and income, and living in rural areas.

Almost nine per cent of females in the U.S. were married before the age of 18, according to the survey data that involved 24,500 women. That’s a relatively low rate compared to developing countries such as India, the study added, where about half the women are married before turning 18.

While it is good to study the effects of child marriage, it’s important to not do a retrospective analysis whereby the investigators lose sight of the fact that children are not able to give consent to something they don’t understand.  Children are not able to give consent to childbearing or rearing or sexual assault as a basic definition of their age status.  Saying that the women now have mental illness is one thing, but the women who were married as children, or basically sexually owned as children, because there is no such thing as consent for the child with a concept like marriage, is to view the sexual abuse from the perspective of an adult.

Here are some statistics about “child brides” aka “childhood survivors of sexual slavery/abuse”:

The term “child brides” is a misnomer for child sexual abuse.  “Child brides” indicates that a child has the ability to consent to marriage, which is not true.  Consider that most survivors of this form of sexual abuse do suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome:

Child brides often show signs symptomatic of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and severe depression.

Hmm, that figure of mental illness developing also seems suspect, because the mental illness didn’t start with adulthood; it started in childhood when the girl was forced to become a sexual slave.

I am not the only one speaking out against “child marriage/child sexual slavery”:

The following statement, based on a review article by Diana Brown, was submitted to the UN Human Rights Councilon behalf of IHEU and the World Population Foundation on 27 February 2006.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights… Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Nepal, Uganda and Cameroon, where over 50% of girls are married by the age of 18. More than 30% of girls are married by the age of 18 in another eighteen countries, mostly in Asia and Africa (UNICEF, Early Marriage, a Harmful Traditional Practice. Statistical exploration, 2005).  (UNICEF, Early Marriage: Child Spouses, 2001). Statistics show that child marriage is most common among the poorest groups in society.

While Unicef is also concedes that children can’t consent to marriage, they often fail to call the sham of the “marriage” title, a union involving two adults, for what it is, a legalized form of child rape and sexual abuse with deadly consequences:

Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 10-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die (UNFPA, Child Marriage Factsheet, 2005). The body of a young girl is not yet ready for pregnancy and childbirth,

It’s no wonder then that “child marriage” as it is euphemistically called, causes mental illness, here or in any other country. Notice that they say that the young girls are “forced into having sexual intercourse,” but they won’t call it what it really is: child rape.  Seriously, girls as young as 10 and 14 being capable of consenting to intercourse and marriage?  Who are these people?  Intentionally misnaming child rape as child marriage is a form of abuse in and of itself.

Dr. Yann Le Strat, the study’s lead author, said he was surprised by what he called the “high burden” of such marriages.

With a 41 percent increased risk of mental disorder, child marriage should be considered a major psychological trauma,” he told The Huffington Post…


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