Violence against children is as real as it gets now. Higher awareness means higher findings of occurrences. Many are living in situations that may not seem to harm them physically when truth is they’re constantly living a waking nightmare. Physical abuses leave visible wounds, but it is more worrying when you can’t see the wounds. Not because there’s not any, but because some wounds consume their victims inside out. These types of wounds mess up with your brain, destroy your self-esteem and confidence, tamper with your emotions, render you unable to trust anyone, and alienates you from connecting with anyone or anything.
Image Source: Seeds Theatre Group
Say a 16-year old girl is about to be wedded to a man twice her age. The family defends the decision they made for her by saying that their village is unsafe and having a husband gives the young girl a protection and a perceived sense of security.
More often than not, when encountering a problem, people tend to go for the quick easy fix. It works sometimes, but many problems are more sophisticated than it appears to be. When you don’t dig deep, the whole thing may actually make sense to your ears—even if just a little bit—and before you know it you may just start telling yourself that child marriage may be a good idea after all. But that doesn’t solve the problem. That’s basically storing a dead body under your bed. You don’t see the problem, but the smell lingers and it gets worse everyday you choose to ignore and fail to acknowledge that there’s a problem.
Image Source: The Pixel Project
Then what is the problem? Is it… complicated? Well, that’s putting it rather lightly. First, there’s the fact that Indonesian law actually approves of underage marriage (for girls as young as 16 with parental consent) and attempts to address this have fallen short a few times. And then there’s the unfortunate status quo in many local communities still barring women, young and old, from authorities over their own body and independence. Isn’t it strange as well that the young girl’s parents marry her off to a 32-year old man for protection? Why aren’t they protecting her? Or if you think going over the structural approach sounds like too much work, cut short and be honest: if the village isn’t safe for young women, why are we not aspiring to advocate and do something for the village to be safe and secure for its inhabitants? How is marrying young girls off solve the problem? At all?
Hume would agree that it takes reason to see things clearly, but it only takes courage and empathy to speak up against injustice—may it be masked as a tradition, faith, custom, norm, belief, law, anything.
Knowledge and information can be very liberating. Share them. Shift perspectives.
Image Source: Defence for Children
Something you can do to help is by supporting individuals, organizations, initiatives—anything, anyone that is doing something to change the status quo. Look up the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children (GPtEVAC), an initiative spearheaded by multiple nations and organizations to end violence everywhere.