National Geographic : 2011 Oct
LETTERS "Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides" has left me so angry that I am shaking as I write this. I cried for hours after reading it. I am a mother to two young daughters, and there simply aren't words for the emotions this article invoked. I am left with one overwhelming feeling: I need to do something! Is there an organization that provides tangible help to these girls? Is there anything I can do to make a difference? KRISTELLE CSERE Walla Walla, Washington Here are some groups that work to delay girls' marriages and improve their lives. International Center for Research on Women icrw.org Equality Now equalitynow.org The Veerni Project veerni.org Tostan tostan.org Elsa, Sifirash & Friends viiassociation.org It seems that the atrocities brought about by many of these countries just keep going on unchecked. The people who try to right the wrongs done to these young girls are met with indifference. I can't imagine what must be going through the children's minds when a man old enough to be their father rapes them and forces them to bear children. It was horrifying to read that a woman of 26 had already given birth to ten children. If these women could only receive the education they need and the aid to stand up to these insane practices. If they have no safe havens, the practices will continue. I hope that someday this will be stopped, and those children can actually be children. DEBBIE SIRONEN Bend, Oregon The incidence of suicide among child brides is not the only fatal result of this disturb- ing custom. In some cases mothers commit infanticide because the baby is female. Often, a cultural preference for sons is the driving force, but some of the mothers have said that they killed their little daughters out of pity for them, lest they be forced into the kind of miserable life they themselves endure. Early forced marriage to total strangers who then have absolute control of their wives is one of the features of such societies that make the lives of many women so intolerable that they feel it is kinder to kill their girl babies than to let them live. HELEN F. STANBRO Falmouth, Maine My mother was a child bride at13.Iamtheninthofher eleven children, ten of whom survived to adulthood. My mother was a third-grade dropout who could read and write only at that level. But she devoured books from our local library---as if she did not have enough to occupy her time, with milking cows, churning butter, milling grains, and so many other chores. She did not have any say in how she raised or married off her first five children. My paternal grandfather ruled with an iron fist. But after my grandfather's demise, she established herself as a matri- arch for her last five children. My father was supportive. All five children went to college and hold degrees. One decided not to marry, one chose not to have children, one married and holds multiple degrees. Education was her dowry to us. CHARU GANDHI Hoffman Estates, Illinois Some may claim that people are uneducated and don't know any better. Having "marriage" ceremonies in the middle of the night because of fear of arrest tells me that these people know exactly what they are doing. N. FEHR Calgary, Alberta I would love to see an article about treatment and views of women in more developed societies where women are still not equal to men, such as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. KELLY M. POPTANYCZ Venice, California The implication of this article is that you have to go to some exotic developing country to find child brides. Not true. The practice derives from a conservative, patriarchal society and is not limited to one country or religion. FRANK WEIGERT Wilmington, Delaware It was horrifying to read that a woman of 26 had already given birth to ten children.