When we think of a girls wedding day, we think of a beautiful, joyous occasion filled with love and ceremony. But for the thousands of girls who are forced to marry much older men, this is not the picture at all.
Save the Children reported that every seven seconds a girl under the age of 15 is married. Girls as young as 10 are forced into marriages and as a result, these girls face turmoil and crisis from domestic violence and abuse to rape.
Daily in the news we read of the atrocities of the Syrians as they flee from their war-torn homes. But what we don’t realize is that conflict, poverty, and other disadvantages affect women and children in a much greater way than their male counterparts. These types of factors leave girls victims to child marriage. Some refugee families force their daughters to marry as a way to protect them from sexual trafficking and worse.
As the I read the report given by Save the Children, I read about a little girl named Sahar (not her real name). She is a 13-year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon. She is married to a 20-year-old man and is now 2 months pregnant.
My heart broke for this little girl because now her life is forever changed. She is exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, she is pregant, and she no longer has the privilege to develop and grow as a child. Most girls like Sahar will never attend school and will not learn to read or write.
Regardless of where we stand politically on the refugee issue, as believers we must see the faces of the little girls whose lives now hang in the balance. The UN children’s agency, Unicef, estimates that over the next decade the number of child brides will grow from 700 million today to around 950 million.
As we at Dare for More strive to be an advocate for the girls in crisis around the world, I stagger at these numbers. What can be done when the peril is so great?
Then I am reminded of a song I sang in Sunday School as a little girl: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” The God I serve cares for all the little children of the world: red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his site. I haven’t sung this children’s song in a long time but today I embrace it as an anthem.
God is at work on behalf of these little ones. His loving kindness draws him to action every day. So I continue praying for the girls of Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Mali, and Somalia where some of the worst conditions exist. I continue to go where God sends me. I watch for opportunities to partner with God in making a difference. And I never give up. Not until the last girl is safe.