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Hundreds of children forced into marriageDate: 14.08.2011, 19:09

Young brides hidden from life

The girls forced into marriage, besides the fact that they are deprived of their carefree childhood and education, they have great chances to be infected with various sexual transmitted diseases, even with HIV/AIDS

Four times I’ve been sold as a bride for 100€. My sister does that, she is the eldest and she finds husbands for me. I’m 15 years old, I’m married in Bitola, and I have children. I’m better off this way than being on the streets. I don’t have problems with my husband, but my parents in law beat me. I have never been to school and I have never needed it. My husband says that our children have to go to school, and if they have lunch there I will let them go, says Ramiza, street children from Skopje

Underage marriages with bunch of kids

Ramiza was unwillingly forced into marriage. She is a child and she already has two children of her own. Despite that, she is not very concerned because according to their tradition it is normal for the girls to get married earlier. She feels bitter because she didn’t have childhood. She still wants to wander carelessly through the streets.

The Ministry of internal affairs says that in 2010 there were 24 criminal charges against people who had extramarital relationship with a minor, and in the first 6 months of this year the police intervened 15 times. According to the data from the Municipal center for social services, last year there were 28 underage marriages with parental permission, and in the first 7 months of this year 15 couples said "Yes" in front of a register.

The state institute of statistics notices the big number of births amongst very young girls. In 2010 there were 26 registered newborns from mothers under the age of 15. Also the number of extramarital children has increased, up to 2.958 children or 12.2 % from the total number of newborns in this country.

Child marriage refers to any marriage of a person younger than 18 years old. The family law provides opportunity to people under the age of 18 to get married only with parental or guardian permission.

Children’s rights only on paper
According to the UN convention on the rights of the child, child marriage is a violation of the children’s rights. The data of the international center for research on women says that there are over 50 million of girls-brides. If the present number of child marriages trends to continue, 100 million girls will marry over the next decade.

The first child embassy in the world says that the premature entry into marriage is a violation of the children’s rights for healthy psychological development, children’s health protection and realization of the right to education.

If in the child marriage the mother gives birth to a baby, it means that the parent is also a child and that raises the question for preparedness for educating and raising a child. With the premature entry into marriage, the minor’s right to education is violated. The primary and secondary educations are compulsory, and the regular education ends at approximately 18 years of age. If a person gets married under the age of 18, that puts into question the possibility to finish his education, i.e. to realize one the fundamental human right and at the same time to dedicate himself to his newly formed family and his matrimonial and parental obligations, says Dragi Zmijanac, the founder of the child embassy Megjasi

From Megjasi say that the committee on the rights of the child in their earlier concluding observations addressed to the government, point out that they are concerned about the practice of premature and forced marriages of girls in certain communities, traditional marriages that are not registered in the competent authorities and cases of sale of children.
Child’s pregnancy is life threatening

According to the US Agency for international development the teenage girls are five times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than a 20 years old woman. Such deaths were common in developing countries with poor prenatal and postnatal care.

Gordana Petrovska, head of the department of gynecology and obstetrics in the hospital "Sistina" says that the girls younger than 15, even 16 or 17 are not sufficiently developed to be able to give birth.

They belong to the risk group of pregnant women just like the old primiparous women. At their age the reproductive organs are not developed yet and their growing continues. Their pelvis is narrow and if they succeed in carrying the baby for 9 months they usually give birth by cesarean section. This is about children, and it means that their life is in question. Maybe they will recover from the pregnancy, but nobody knows what will happen with their psychological condition, says Petrovska.

According to the UN’s data, in Africa 60% of the women and girls give birth without medical birth attendant.  Last year in Macedonia 32 babies were born without medical assistance, and 38 were born outside of a health institute.

Worldwide, 70.000 girls from 15 to 19 years of age die during the pregnancy or the childbirth, according to the studies of UNICEF, but there’s a great danger for the newborns as well. They are more likely to be with low birth weight and undeveloped. The girls forced into marriage have far more chances of being infected with sexual transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, because they are less capable of negotiations with their husbands about safe sex.

Small penalties for cohabitation with a child

According to the criminal code an adult who cohabits with a minor who has turned 14 years of age, not 16, will be punished with prison sentence from 3 months to 3 years. The same punishment will befall the parent, the adoptive parent or the guardian who will let the minor cohabit with an adult or will incline him to do that. If this deed is done as a result of cupidity, the offender will be punished with prison sentence from 1 to 5 years.

Every week at least one girl becomes a bride

Every 3 seconds in the world there is a girl under the age of 18 who gets married, and in Macedonia at least once a week there is a girl forced into marriage. Usually their parents force them into marriages, without their acceptance and sometimes with a husband much older than them. According to the research and the report of the humanitarian organization "Plan" which works for the UN, more than 10 million of girls a year are victims of such marriages. Although that kind of practice is mostly widespread in Africa, the  Middle East and in Southeast Asia, in Macedonia as well there is a high number of girls-brides and young mothers.