When life ends at twelve.

(Yemen) …”a 12-year-old girl died in childbirth after an agonizing 3-day labor.  …young Fawziya was pulled out of school and married to a man twice her age.

She isn’t the only one.

The issue of Yemeni child brides came to the forefront last year, with 8-year-old Nujood Ali who “was pulled out of school and married to a man who beat and raped her within weeks of the ceremony.

To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi — the first time in her life — to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.”  [Full story]

Yemen is full of child brides. Roughly half of Yemeni girls are married before 18, some as young as eight. Child marriage, common in South Asia, sub- Saharan Africa and Middle-Eastern countries such as Yemen, is dangerous for brides and their children…”

India is not too different. I have met a few, all unhappy.  One of my maids once confessed that she had a daughter who she had left in her village near Ferozpur. She was devoted to her son, dropped him to a ‘private school’ everyday and bought Bournvita for him. Didn’t she worry about how her other child was doing?

She said her husband hated the girl and she felt the child was safer with her maternal grandmother. When I conveyed my disapproval, she confessed that the daughter was from an earlier marriage to an older man, and although her husband had promised to take care of her, he treated her cruelly.

When she was 12 her family had married her to a 40-year old widower. He raped her and beat her. She escaped and came back to her village. She told her family she would hang herself if they tried to send her back. She was pregnant with that daughter at the time. She never went back and was married again when she was older.

Her daughter was more like a sister to her, she thought of her grandmother as her mother.

Not all girls escape or die, many stay married and live to have many children (healthy or unhealthy) over whom they have no rights. Women in such marriages are another generation, and much younger, and since our society associates wisdom with age, the husband’s word is the last word in all important matters. Dead or alive, they have no life.


51 thoughts on “When life ends at twelve.

  1. I remember reading that the other day in papers. It’s a sad state of affairs. I guess there are some girls that are ‘lucky’ to escape but most are not. And even when they do escape…they lose their childhood.

    I wonder if this will ever change in my lifetime…

    The law has a powerful influence, and political leaders can also change a society’s thinking… if they wish to, if they feel this might get them votes, you will see this change in your lifetime 😡


  2. Such a tragic loss of a child’s innocence! Amazing how boys of twelve are NEVER married off and made to shoulder responsibilities beyond their age!

    True Indy!! “responsibilities beyond their age” is the what is forced upon them 😦


  3. …and we have the gall to call ourselves civilized and look down on others…

    Sraboney there are worse stories… but I also hear mothers swearing they would not allow this to happen to their children.


    • I’ve met many people who frown at fundamentalist Muslims and countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran and thank their stars they were born in India…What these people should realize that India is not all that better – we have the same problems and we should take care of those first before looking down on others…

      I agree Sraboney, because here we can actually make a difference… like by talking to whoever we can, supporting our maids and people we know, or writing about it… but we can’t do much about the middle east…


  4. Am sad to read the post….sometimes pain has no words.

    The 8 year old managed to get a divorce last year. These child marriages make helpless mothers (in India also)… Even if the mothers realise such marriages are wrong in every way, they still can’t do much because the men don’t seem to see the terrible harm i it. I talk about it to anybody I hear planning such a marriage – the maids mainly. If nothing else I tell them they will have more money for a better marriage in the next few years… 😦


    • divorce? Isn’t a marriage with a minor illegal and there can be no contract with minors as well..??

      On the post: We can’t make lions vegetarians, unless they choose it…but nor can we be in solidarity with them(we are cows after all 😉 ) ..

      And if my comment seems lacking seriousness, am sorry, but I do not know how to put it…

      I understand Vishesh. We are like cows here, totally helpless. But I won’t compare such men with Lions, more like wolves… but why compare a bad human characteristic with any animal? Animals are better than us.


  5. This is not a life, IHM, it is not. It is a living death. It is a long, drawn-out death sentence.

    It is a long drawn death sentence M4… this shocked me. Although I knew about my maid, only after reading this news did I realise how traumatic it must have been for her. Her mother was supportive, or she would still have been sent back!


  6. OMG !!! I am shocked.

    Of course, I do know, there are cases like these all around us, but when I read such a sad incident, in your maid’s life, I am just shocked.

    First, they want to kill the child in the womb, when they come to know it is a girl. If, by mistake, the girl is born, they make sure that she is killed slowly, either by child marriage, physical abuse – name it, and they make sure it is done on that girl – so she dies the moment she is born. Or she is a living corpse. Why do some women also are part of this horrid treatment towards other women ????

    I just don’t understand Uma, this news upset me, eight! eleven!…they are kids!! most parents would worry if someone as much as glanced at the child like she was a woman…, and then some parents send them knowing what their fate was going to be? Why can’t everybody see that this is so wrong???


  7. eight year old brides and 12 yr old mothers. we have the audacity to call ourselves “humankind” when we are so inhuman and there is nothing kind or sensible with the way we treat our own species…

    this is like cannabalism in a whole new way… we’re out to get our daughters and sisters.

    she died in child labour that lasted 3 days! 😥

    no one deserves this IHM. this is really upsetting and unnerving…

    it’s a good thing ur maid wasn’t sent back… sometimes the parents are so adamant, they’d rather have th girl kill herself, than keep her at their house after they have married her off…

    when will this end? i dunno. i guess there is no answer. the most we can do is help in whatever way possible and spread awareness…

    ironic. the woman who is the bearer of life, is given no control on her’s. the one who brings man into the world has to die at his hands.


    Her mother realised she had to support her, and she also raised her grand daughter… I had been very disapproving about her leaving her in the village, she told me her husband hated her so much, one day the child dropped a glass of water or something and he threw her on the floor, her mother never sent her back.


    • we have the audacity to call ourselves “humankind” when we are so inhuman and there is nothing kind or sensible with the way we treat our own species…

      Exactly my thoughts.


  8. 😦
    What degree of injustice is this!!And I find myself of complaining when I have more work than the others. Depressing. Very, very.

    G it can’t get worse than this. I wish we had more campaigns like the Bell Bajao Campaign o create awareness here… in the villages, and it has to be a constant process..


  9. very,very sad.. But like you said, India is certainly no better; on the contrary, it may be worse. Child marriage is pbly more prevalent in Rajasthan,Haryana,Gujrat,Maharashtra belt and even HImachal for that matter. Did you know that according to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India’s women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas?? The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India!!! The “National Plan of Action for Children 2005,” (published by the Department of Women and Child Development of India) had a goal to eliminate child marriage completely by 2010. To some extent, they may have made progress. But it continues to plague the country in no uncertain terms, IHM. Check out this link and you`ll know..

    Thanks for the info and the link Piper. Let me check the link….


    • Read the article Piper.

      “Politicians lack the will to check child marriages to guard their votes from various communities in which the practice is still followed,” social activist Lalita Dave says.

      I wonder if they can’t offer special bonus to girls who study till class XII? Or those who marry (and register their marriages) at 18 and above? Rajasthan is the worst I think.

      We are so convinced that marriage is the goal of a girl’s life that everything else revolves around it, her career choice, the way she lives, they way she is raised… parents think they are securing her a happy future, when in fact they are not letting her have a future 😦


  10. that story was heartbreaking. It was on the front pages in newspapers here as well. Just reading the story made me sick. 12 yr old girl in labor and died!!!!

    Shocking. When will this ever end? 😦

    Atleast nobody is trying to defend this Masood, if it’s wrong and acknowledged as wrong, it is a relief.
    In parts of Rajasthan this gets political support…(you should see Piper’s link) …I wonder why are our politicians so unconcerned about the people who vote them to power. I feel women and mothers should at least see sense and educate people, they should never vote for such selfish ‘leaders’…


  11. 👿 grrrrrrrrr…….. castrate kill those bastards!!! the ones who cant control their need for women (girls, rather), buy them at a tender age, abuse them with inhuman behaviour and then leave them for dead…

    a girl at 12… she shud b in school… wondering abt her upcoming teenage yrs, life at home with parents and siblings, friends et al…. this sounds so..so… 😦 i dont know what to say… 😐

    I felt the same way… they are pedophiles, and should be treated like criminals. Instead they are given such rights to controls the lives of little children 😦


  12. When every issue raked up and fought against gets either a political angle or a religious angle, the fight becomes a lot harder and gets embroiled and lost along the way. That is why, a lot of people find it hard to face up to such issues. The issues are many. While so much is going wrong with the world/country/state etc, I get really pissed that since YSR died, the whole agenda has been to get his statues into prime spots in the state, which roads or areas can be named after him etc. What about the living Dead!

    It is so terribly sad to be born into such cultures which torture women. If i had it my way, I would have sought out such b******s and castrated them. That would seriously help curb such problems! 😀


  13. I dont really know the solution but it cant be an entire generation of girls treated worse than animals, and occasional punishment for the perpetrators, at the whims and fancies of a vote-blinded shameless politician.

    Sometimes I think we target education at the wrong people. The parents need to be educated first. Only then the lives of the daughters might, just might, be different. The lady who is my household help for the last 25 years has a similar story, Things have turned out different for her , because of her parents . See this .


  14. A 12 year old mother – how much maturity will she herself have that she will look after a child? Loking after younger siblings is one thing, but havign a child yourself is a totally different issue. I’m 26, and I’m too freaked out by the thought of having a child and taking full responsibility for him/ her and that to with a man whom I love and totally trust, and I can just imagine what it would be like for a child to have a baby and that too with such an older man who beats & rapes her


  15. I have wondered many times, how can these people see girls at eight or twelve as anything remotely sexual! These girls are just kids, jumping around, playing or skipping. How can they even treat them like their wife!?

    I think men who marry these kids should be imprisoned for life to be treated the way they intended to treat this kid.


  16. You are right, you know, about India not being too different. A couple of days ago there was this news article in the Malayalam newspaper about a man who had raped and impregnated his own 13 year old daughter. The mother came to know of it only when the girl complained of stomach ache and at at the hospital they realized it was labour pains. The infant was still born. Imagine the trauma of having to undergo all this at such a tender age! This in a supposedly highly educated and literate state like Kerala!


  17. How can parents do this to their child? Even if she happens to be girl. What sort of parents would willingly give their daughter to someone to be raped?

    This story makes me wonder if we are living in some alternate pedophile heaven dimension? Honestly what else will you call a guy who beats and rapes a 12 year old (even if she is his ‘wife’).


  18. This subject matter makes me SO angry IHM.
    What kind of twisted and sick bastard inflicts this on his / her own daughter? If the mothers stopped their learned helplessness and ‘woe is me, I can’t live without a man’s permission’, and actually stood up together for ALL their children, they could improve the lives of their future generations.
    And the bastard perdophiles who ‘marry’ these little girls should be neutered immediately that they are caught. How disgusting – a grown man raping a helpless child. A girl’s skeletal and muscular structure is not even properly set till she is between 16-18 and then some maturation continues till she is 21+. How can an immature body be tortured through the pain of pregnancy and child birth.
    Imagine sending your son to private school while you dump your daughter. It just perpetuates the status quo. You are saying to the boy – Son, you are precious because you are male – and your sister is worthless because she is female. Ergo all males and precious and all females are worthless. How will he grow up with any other perspective, but to treat all women with contempt? And to your daughter you are emphasizing her weak and worthless existence.
    Disgusting, heartless people who enable such a cycle of inequity and hatred to continue.


  19. Read this in the papers IHM. This is so disgusting that don’t even know what to say to this…

    Yes Rakesh… it is a horrendous crime made legal, and even respectable!


  20. Here after a long time.

    I too have met girls who were married off at a really young age…..given a chance they want better for their own daughters…….in most cases they fail….cause support is difficult to get.

    If those of us who can, would take the trouble to support, advice and at times if needed threaten….this society could be different.

    Lets try and do it!!


  21. This is saddening. It is sad that we still have all this happening in India, and not just in remote rural areas alone.. While, we, might be marginally better off than some nations, we have a long long way to go before atrocities like this will be a thing of the past.


  22. You claim that the female skeletal system is not strong enough between the ages of 15 and 18. I’m sure this is not a problem when it comes to “safe” sex. There is always iPill you see?
    Teenage pregnancies? Out of marriage sex and abortions are fully welcome and signs of “freedom” and “progress”?
    You have gone and muddied a serious problem that cannot be solved by assuming convenient lies.
    But why am I wasting my time here when I know full well you won’t and don’t have the courage to post any of this? Go figure!

    I would worry much more about rapists and pedophiles than about a teenage girl sleeping with her boy friend. Simply because in the second case she is not being raped, forced or tortured. And if she is, she has no social or family’s pressure to stay with the abuser, in fact she is encouraged to leave the guy.

    If a married woman is a teenager, and is pregnant, it is not seen as ‘teenage pregnancy’, so it seems it is more about her morals, than her health.

    I find a lot of us are more concerned about a girl’s morals, her chastity and her character than her safety or happiness.
    I think I-Pill (or any contraceptive) is a blessing, and I have blogged about it too.


  23. gosh this is soo very shameful for us as a society… horrendous crime. Y don’t we file these people as pedophiles??!!?? They are definitely sex offenders of highest order and whoever thinks of defending them, evn verbally, should be awarded the same dishonour..
    This has made me so so soo sad. 😦


  24. IHM, thank you for the post… Its an enlightening post and you have touched upon a very sensitive topic, in a beautiful way!

    I would like to cross post this post of yours on another blog that we have which deals with social issues (crediting you ofc). The blog is: itsafreeworld.wordpress.com

    Please let me know if you are ok with that.


    Please do that Nova, and let me thank you!


  25. Pingback: When life ends at twelve. « Its A Free World….

  26. Whenever I read of these atrocities I cringe with terror and it brings tears to my eyes. I live in the Caribbean, even though we do not have forced/arranged marriages, the abuse women and girls face on a daily basis continues. Until women are seen as individuals and not as possessions this abuse will continue. We have to remember that MEN ARE PREDATORS. If they are not controlled by the law or by other means necessary women are not safe. Women first have to love themselves and believe they are worthy human beings. Daughters are an extension of us and we have to protect them by all means. I will commit murder if I have to protect my daughter. If we cannot protect them who will?


  27. ………………..and somewhere in the world an author will be getting his manuscript ready for another best seller. such is life….. in the misery of one, another finds happiness, and yet another seek solitude.

    reading this reminded me of the book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

    Me- It reminded me of A Thousand Splendid Suns too! This shook me the same way too…


  28. Pingback: Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture… « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  29. Pingback: Dying statements of vengeful women settling scores by attempting suicide. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  30. Pingback: ‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really? « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  31. Pingback: Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  32. Pingback: Who benefits from criminalizing consensual teenage sex? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  33. Pingback: This is what Haryana Khaps are not saying. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  34. Pingback: 47% of children being born in UK were out of wedlock. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  35. Pingback: Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  36. Pingback: “Can you people help me on this? I only want to convince my parents that is all.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  37. Pingback: “What should l be doing? What good is my feminism if l don’t help this woman?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. Pingback: Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  39. Pingback: The Groom pleaded with the Bride, telling her that he would not be able to face friends and neighbours if he returned without her. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s