National Geographic Daily News
A preteen bride with her groom.

"Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him," recalls Tahani, pictured here, of the early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 25. The couple live in Yemen.

Stephanie Sinclair, VII/National Geographic

Rena Silverman

for National Geographic News

Published March 13, 2013

How many children and teenage girls are ready for marriage? Yet the practice is shockingly prevalent: One out of nine girls in developing countries will be married by age 15, according to the United Nations. An estimated 14.2 million girls a year will become child brides by 2020 if nothing changes.

Driven largely by poverty and cultural traditions, such marriages are usually arranged by family members. The physical and emotional consequences can be life shattering, even fatal.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Stephanie Sinclair has been documenting child marriage all over the world for more than a decade. Her work, which was featured in a National Geographic magazine feature in 2011, has raised awareness and helped educate both citizens and world leaders. She spoke to us after attending a recent United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) event focused on addressing the problem of child marriage. (Pictures: The secret world of child brides.)

What do you find most disturbing about child marriage?

I think the thing that we must acknowledge is that in most cases these young children do not want to be married. They want normal lives. They want to play with their friends, they want to be educated, and they want to have a full adolescence. These marriages rob many girls of their innocence, many times before puberty, and this is something that as a global society we cannot tolerate. The bottom line is that child marriage isn't just harmful to the girls involved. It's at the root of so many other societal ills: poverty, disease, maternal mortality, infant mortality, violence against women. All of those are symptoms connected to the same problem. If you solve the child marriage problem, these other issues benefit as well. And as the speaker at last week's CSW event put it: Let's be honest, when an eight-year-old has sex with a 20-something-year old, that's rape. It is child rape. It's something we cannot be okay with.

What's changed, if anything, since the NGM story ran in 2011? Have efforts to stop child marriage gained force?

When we did the story, there was not the same kind of public awareness of child marriage that there is now. But shortly afterward The Elders, a group of world leaders dedicated to peace and human rights, made it a priority issue and formed Girls Not Brides, which now has over 200 members based throughout Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America—all united by a commitment to end child marriage and enable girls to fulfill their potential.

My photo agency, VII, has also since partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for a two-year campaign on the topic, which kicked off with a huge exhibition at the UN headquarters in New York City on October 11, 2012, the first-ever International Day of the Girl Child. My photographs were featured throughout the UNFPA report released that day, titled "Marrying Too Young." As part of the two year campaign, I am continuing to produce new work on the issue with colleague and filmmaker Jessica Dimmock. The campaign has an active blog and website, tooyoungtowed.org, where will be publishing additional stories and updates about where the exhibition will be traveling worldwide.

What more can be done?

A multifaceted approach is needed to address the issue of child marriage. Education is still the single most protective factor. This means keeping the children in school as long as possible, as well as educating the communities about the harmful impact of child marriage on the health of their girls, their grandchildren, and their societies as a whole. I also strongly believe there is not just a need for awareness-raising and prevention work, but we must also find ways to help the girls who are already in these marriages, be it through giving financial incentives to their families to let them stay in school, or vocational training so they can have more say in their lives and households. Quality medical treatment is also needed for girls who are giving birth at young ages. These girls need long-term solutions.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. But there seems to be a growing movement aimed at ending child marriage. A few months ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored pilot program in Bangladesh that will work with religious leaders, media, local governments, and NGOs to foster community support for an end to child marriage. And Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of The Elders, has announced a very ambitious goal: to end the practice by 2030. If this issue remains a global priority, I'm optimistic that we can meet that deadline. There are always ways to do it. You just have to be creative. A lot of initiatives have started, but it's about keeping the momentum.

How do you plan to continue covering this issue?

My film partner and I just returned from Tanzania and are following a narrative there on the health repercussions for young brides. We return again in about two weeks. We are putting together something for the United Nations Population Fund book. We are looking at the issue of fistula, one of many health issues, including uterine prolapse and ruptured uterus, that girls suffer because of child marriage. In fact when I was in Yemen I interviewed a female gynecologist who told me: "When the girls in your country are at the beginning of their lives, the girls in our country are at the end of their lives."

You've heard the personal stories of many child brides. Was there one that especially moved or outraged you?

They are all heartbreaking, but probably the one that got me the most was the little girl Tahani. She was eight when I met her, but six when she was married to her 25-year-old husband in Hajjah, Yemen. She is featured in the video we did that went with the National Geographic story. Even though she looks young—her teeth haven't even grown in yet—there is a matter-of-factness about her that makes her seem older, which is clear evidence of trauma, otherwise she wouldn't be so dissociated talking about her sexual experience at age eight. Serious innocence has been lost. She went to school, she even lived next to a school, but wasn't able to complete her education because once her mother died, there was no one to stand up for her.

Are there any happy endings you can share?

Yes. In 2010, I photographed a Yemeni girl named Nujoud Ali. Nujoud was one of the lucky ones. Due to her own bravery and with the help of a female lawyer named Shada Nasser, Nujoud was able to get a divorce at age 10, just a few months after her marriage. She is now having a second chance at life. We can only hope that other girls will get the support they need should they want to take the same steps.

113 comments
Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

Those who blame Islam and Prophet Mohammad about Child marriage must read this :

Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 3123 Narrated by Aisha

I never saw the private parts of Allah's Messenger (saws)

However, In Judaism:

A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. "A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse," the words of R. Meir. And sages say, "Three years and one day old."

And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her. And they are liable on her account because of the law prohibiting intercourse with a married woman. And she imparts uncleanness to him who has intercourse with her when she is menstruating to convey uncleanness to the lower as to the upper layer. If she was married to a priest, she eats heave offering. If one of those who are unfit for marriage has intercourse with her, he has rendered her unfit to marry into the priesthood. If one of all those who are forbidden in the Torah to have intercourse with her did so, they are put to death on her account. But she is free of responsibility.

If she is younger than that age, intercourse with her is like putting a finger in the eye.

Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. "A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse," the words of R. Meir. And sages say, "Three years and one day old." 


And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her. And they are liable on her account because of the law prohibiting intercourse with a married woman. And she imparts uncleanness to him who has intercourse with her when she is menstruating to convey uncleanness to the lower as to the upper layer. If she was married to a priest, she eats heave offering. If one of those who are unfit for marriage has intercourse with her, he has rendered her unfit to marry into the priesthood. If one of all those who are forbidden in the Torah to have intercourse with her did so, they are put to death on her account. But she is free of responsibility. 


If she is younger than that age, intercourse with her is like putting a finger in the eye. 


(Mishnah Niddah 5:4)

Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

Child marriage


In Jewish Ashkenazi communities in the Middle Ages, girls were married off very young.[79] Despite the young threshold for marriage a large age gap between the spouses was opposed,[80] and, in particular, marrying one's young daughter to an old man was declared as reprehensible as forcing her into prostitution.[81] Child marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for girls. A ketannah (literally meaning "little [one]") was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day;[82] a ketannah was completely subject to her father's authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her without her agreement.[82] If the father was dead or missing, the brothers of the ketannah, collectively, had the right to arrange a marriage for her, as had her mother,[82] although in these situations a ketannah would always have the right to annul her marriage even if it was the first.[83] According to the Talmud a father is commanded not to marry his daughter to anyone until she grows up and says 'I want this one'.[84] A marriage that takes place without the consent of the girl is not an effective legal marriage.[85] If the marriage did end (due to divorce or the husband's death), any further marriages were optional; the ketannah had the right to annul them.[83] The choice of a ketannah to annul a marriage, known in Hebrew as mi'un (literally meaning "refusal", "denial", "protest"),[83] led to a true annulment, not a divorce; a divorce document (get) was not necessary,[86] and a ketannah who did this was not regarded by legal regulations as a divorcee, in relation to the marriage.[87] Unlike divorce, mi'un was regarded with distaste by many rabbinic writers,[83] even in the Talmud;[88] in earlier classical Judaism, one major faction - the House of Shammai - argued that such annulment rights only existed during the betrothal period (erusin) and not once the actual marriage (nissu'in) had begun.[8

In modern times, child marriage is extremely rare in the Jewish community; it is banned by law in most countries.


yukon dave
yukon dave

The choice of topic and photo is pure propaganda.  The majority of the child brides are in large population countries like India and Bangladesh and the rest are from Africa.    I reference the UN 10 year study on the topic.


1Ni&er75%

2Chad72%

3Bangladesh66%

4Guinea63%

5Central African Republic61%

6Mali55%

7Mozambique52%

8Malawi50%

9Madagascar48%

10Sierra Leone48%

11Burkina Faso48%

12India47%

13Eritrea47%

14Uganda46%

15Somalia45%

16Nicaragua43%

17Zambia42%

18Ethiopia41%

19Nepal41%

20Dominican Republic 40%

Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) database using household surveys (DHS and MIS) complete during the period 2000-2011.

From: UNFPA (2012). Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage. New York, NY: UNFPA


http://www.unfpa.org/public/home/publications/pid/12166

Ali Fairouz
Ali Fairouz

Urges Islam to marry and finished on celibacy (celibacy for Marriage: left ascetic in it), recalled that the marriage of the traditions of the prophets and messengers Allah says in the Koran (We sent messengers before thee, and appointed for them wives and offspring) Thunder 38, said the Prophet (four of the Messengers: Henna, and Altatr, and tooth brushing, and marriage) Tirmidhi [citation needed] and saying of the Prophet also (O young men, whoever among you can afford فليتزوج) [citation needed], and marry a sign of God in the universe of meaning {that He created you from among yourselvesthem and put between you affection and mercy in this are signs for those who reflec

hab m
hab m

Why doesnt Rena Silverman also takes photos of child victims of western Pedophilia, human trafficking and rape to see the other side of a coin, there r lot more victims in the west than in tribal areas of eastern countries. I am not advocating child marriage if the girl doesnt want it because it has nothing to do with Islam, but if we compare them to the children raped in the west by some pedophile  who took advantage of a child for one time satisfaction of his lust and left the child with  alone with her ruined childhood and psyche, isnt it worse than a girl who is married respectfully with all due respects to her and her family, and her husband provides her and their future children with everthing they need and she lives as a respected wife decently with virtue and protection. Maybe all she needs is that and such westerners come and see their life throgh their glasses, and try to impose their understanding of life to the whole world. See this for a comparison: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201303192347-0022624

Gail Bentzinger
Gail Bentzinger

Yemen is bad for this. The parents say it's done so they are relieved of the financial and moral burden  of a girl. worrying about her doing something to endanger the family honor, so they marry them off young. Then, when they get pregnant, they get fistulas, holes in their bladders or rectums that cause them to leak bodily fluids all the time. I believe ethiopia has a small program to help women and girls by repairing fistulas so they can return home, to work and school. Some women are made to stay in an outside hut because they smell so bad so the surgery returns them to their family and village also. We are so lucky to live in America.

Lhavanya DL
Lhavanya DL

I disagree with the people who say this is a 'muslim' thing. This happens in India (hindus) and in China too. And to the christians, if you go back far into your history, you'll see equally 'barbaric' stuff that was prevalent in your culture and condoned by religion even. I mean you even had daughters who slept with their fathers! And that was in the bible by the way.

It's just that these cultures nowadays have not advanced enough in terms of education and mindsets. Often it is a matter of practicality. In poor families girls can't do much by way of work. Their families are often poor and coupled with the 'traditional' mindset the 'best' way of looking after these girls is marrying them off to men who can support a female. 

I am not saying i condone this, quite the contrary in fact but to all those people who are lambasting islam, please remember this.

Denny O.
Denny O.

To M.G., if the civilization you are referring to in this context matches contemporary civilization in which many of us inhabit today, you'll soon realize that the same civilization of which you speak is equally responsible for various, negative impacts towards society today. Though the impact's range across a broad spectrum, they remind us, that the barbaric societies, like the ones above, were also considered the pinnacle of advancement and development, at one point in time. The real problem lies not within the custom or the beliefs of a society or peoples, rather it manifest within the arbitrary truth of the person who so chooses to take up that belief...It's not ignorance, but faith, something Avinesh summarized well ..Much like a scientific theory, it's function has always been repetitively executed without any "real" problem. Despite this, many therom's today cannot become law's because they haven't been unanimously  proven... You can treat cancer, but it won't always leave, in the same sense many of us educated individuals can treat, "barbaric customs and beliefs" as you call it, but there is no guarantee  if any at all, that the treatment will have a grande impact. Good argument, tricky disagreement.

Ana Eboli
Ana Eboli

I think it's also VERY important to educate boys from the start about respecting their fellow human beings as equals, and about the meaning and immorality of rape and sexual abuse... and violence in general.

You can do all you want to help women receive education and limited protection, but if men are not raised to uphold common human decency, nothing will change.

Bruce Carter
Bruce Carter

In a lot of cases, it sounds like it is that primitive, false religion of Islam.  If they want to be respected as a force for good, they need to do some major housecleaning of some Immans who say this stuff is OK.  If you want to look at the validity of any religion, just look at how it treats women for a clue about how genuine it is.


M G
M G

I am a cultural imperialist.  I do not apologize for that. My civilization cures diseases, puts humans in space, built the internet, has discovered the quantum order of the universe. This civilization is multi-ethnic, secular, and international.  Most of us are members of it.  

It is time to stop pretending that the barbarian customs and beliefs have an inalienable right to be exist. Some are benign, some are malignant.  We have a duty to treat these cultural diseases (bigotry, slavery,etc) both within the empire and our client states.

You may find my language offensive, but i daresay you will have trouble disagreeing with the argument.

Avinash N
Avinash N

Yes, I accept that marrying out girls at such a tender age is not logical.

This is just an one of the various other traditions being followed without thinking.

I read the posts above and saw many heated discussions. 

But I would like to bring to everyone's attention that "faith", is what we follow without reason. So if Emma says that it is right, that is her faith.

We cannot convince her giving any reasoning.

Its same as trying to convince a vegetarian to eat meat as its healthy (don't quote me on this :P)

Maybe she has seen some good marriages out of child marriages that have strengthened her faith. 

When she sees some ill effects near her, she might change her opinion.

The issue we are discussing is prominent in many countries and different cultures. It cannot be eradicated instantly but i believe that it can be overcome if we educate our future generations about its ill effects. Its not only about education but also its application, as we see that these traditions also are being carried out in highly educated families.

So being an optimist, I always believe that we are on the path of making the world a better place to live.

Thanks

Sorry if I have hurt some one..it was unintenional

Manny Johnson
Manny Johnson

I do not believe the COUNTRY or the CULTURE where this situation occurs is what really matters. Rather, I believe it is the question as to what is in the best interests of the young girls involved. We are all part of the same species and isn't it the responsibility of all people to protect the rights of those less able to do so on their own? 

I have traveled to many parts of the world and witnessed the exploitation of young girls. I was so emotionally moved by such visits to be the Executive Producer of a film directed by Catherine Dent titled, "SILK-the movie,"(silk-themovie.com) which explores this exact theme in great detail with a cast and crew worthy of undertaking such a task. I felt it was the least I could do to help other human beings. If one young girl's life is changed by this story, this interaction between fellow readers, this little film I was blessed to be a part of, then I am SMILING!

Peace, Love and Blessings. Manny J

Steve Wasmuth
Steve Wasmuth

I think 6 is just a little young, of course in Cambodia the "pros" are only 9, and in my area it seems that any young women that doesn't have at least 1 child by 18, there's something wrong with her.

Jin L.
Jin L.

I dont think anything involves with this outragoues "culture" can be forgiven,poverty brings something beyond their age.

Hikaru Sulu
Hikaru Sulu

I think we are all monkeys throwing poop at what is different.

Cath Hughes
Cath Hughes

We would consider it an honor to interview Stephanie Sinclair for 8 Women Dream.  We'd love to be a part of opening up the conversation about how women can help other women in the world.

Lynn T
Lynn T

This is a cultural issue. Since someone brought up religion, consent for marriage is granted by the male & female before marriage in certain religions. If either is forced into it, it's not considered marriage.  No religion states "men must marry children/teenagers". Again, the issue is culture, not religion.

Roseanne Fletcher
Roseanne Fletcher

This reminds me of the biologist Niklaas Hartsoeker (1656-1725),  who claimed he saw tiny babies in the sperm of man.  So, for centuries women were the incubators and men carried all the tiny babies in their seed. Ejaculation was considered murder unless a female submitted. The incredible need for education remains across our earth.

Michael GH
Michael GH

@Mariyam MohammadDon't believe everything you read! It's nothing in judaism that support pedophile behavour!- Even if it was- that dosen't make Mohammeds or the mens action in this article right!

Michael GH
Michael GH

@Mariyam Mohammad even if some jew married a child- that dosen't mean that its ok for muslims to marry children to!- What's your point???

Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

@Ali FairouzChild marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for girls. A ketannah (literally meaning "little [one]") was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day;

vero cru
vero cru

@hab m you are disgusting! forcing children to marry old disgusting men. Would you want to be forced to marry an old woman when you were 8 or ten years old?

Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

@hab m Child marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for girls. A ketannah (literally meaning "little [one]") was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day;

John C.
John C.

@hab m 

The difference is in the West pedophiles are thrown in prison. Under Islam it is condoned. 

Marty Le Renard
Marty Le Renard

@hab m How is this about comparison? Should we ignore the plight of a child overseas because our children have problems? We are well aware that there are pedophiles in the west. We have laws and systems to combat the problem. There are pedophiles everywhere, the only difference is the social acceptance of the practice and the lack of reporting due to archaic traditions that result in the child being blamed. 

To say you don't agree with child marriage "if the girl doesn't want it" is ridiculous. We have an age of consent in the west, as well as other restrictions on children making life changing decisions, because it is understood they are not capable of doing so. The age of consent is to protect the child from their own immaturity as well as manipulation by adults.

Heidi J
Heidi J

@hab m

Muhammad set the example for all Muslims throughout history when he married a girl of 6 and consummated his marriage with her at the age of 9. This phenomena has EVERYTHING to do with Islam's view of child marriage when occurring in the Islamic world. The Quran also gives reference to the marriage of PRE-PUBESCENT girls as though it is completely normal.

The Quran in Sura 65:1, 4 says:
65:1 O Prophet, when you (and the believers) divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting-period and count the waiting-period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden. 

A. Roberts
A. Roberts

@hab m This is not a flip side of the coin, it's the same side, the only difference is it is not condoned to have sex with a child in the western world. What child can make a decision to marry with the full mental capacity of knowing what a marriage is? Marriage is more than being taken care of. So some how it becomes respectful to sleep with a child if you take care of them? And let's be truthful here, how many of these men who marry children are virgins themselves? The problem is, we don't expect men to curb their desires, we find ways to let them "respectfully" fulfill them.

Terri Merz
Terri Merz

@hab m 

Pitting one evil against another does not make either right.  Grown men marrying children and forcing them to have sex has nothing to do with making that child "respected, and virtuous".  It makes the pig who took advantage this child a pedophile and the child a victim, not a wife.  Period.  It is the same thing as the pig in the west who rapes a child.  The only difference is the pig who is doing it under the guise of marriage is kidding himself into believing what he is doing is "ok".

karen freeman
karen freeman

@hab mIt seems that you are offended by the author's use of the word rape and have thus attempted to compare pedophilia with child marriage. I fear that by doing so, you miss the point that men would find greater value and be better off marrying a woman versus a child. An adult bride would have the experience of age (and hopefully, the education) to better care for her husband and bear his children. Little girls who are pulled out of school to care for husbands are ill-equipped to effectively contribute to the welfare of the family and her husband, let alone herself. The girls are best cared for by their families as they mature and attend school instead of being ripped from their classmates and their toys to ineffectively try to perform adult tasks and responsibilities in exchange for food and something to wear.

The reason Ms. Silverman did not take pictures of victims of western pedophiles is because the story isn't about western pedophiles. It is about child brides. The coin you are referring to is children being forced to have sex, one with a man called a husband and the other with a man called a rapist. Little girls do not want sex. They want to play with their friends and attend school. There is no honor in either side of your coin.

Caroline Jenkins
Caroline Jenkins

@Lhavanya DL It does not happen in China. The far east has never had much in the way of pre-pubertal marriage, the usual age being the late teens. "Marriage East and West", a book by a  married couple, anthropologists, from the early 1960s, mentions this.

Amy Wright
Amy Wright

@Lhavanya DL My great-grand mother was a preacher's daughter and she was forced into a marriage with an abusive man at the age of 12. So yes, Christianity shouldn't be excluded.

Caroline Jenkins
Caroline Jenkins

@Steve Wasmuth The "pros" have been traumatized and mind-controlled (no other word for it when one is that young) that they are ruined on some level for any sort of healthy sex life of healthy relationship with a man. And god help any children they eventually become the mother of. I'd like to hear it from the "pros" mouths, how they became pros, and what they think of the adults.

Ernesta Tutubi
Ernesta Tutubi

@Hikaru SuluDifferent is BDSM, asphyxiation, golden shower, orgies, playing with poop. This is plain wrong. A child is a child, wherever she is located. A child cannot have sex with a grown man. Let's be crude. Her vagina is not ready to accept a grown man's penis. Her mind is not ready to know what sex is. Even monkeys know to take care of their young and not have sex with them. Here's poop for you. You can either play with it or eat it. The two are different. Oh wait, apparently you don't know the difference between "different" and "wrong."

John C.
John C.

@Hikaru Sulu th

This isn't just sone quaint cultural difference, like forbidding pork or bowing instead of shaking hands. Normal human beings all across the world consider it simple common sense that 8 year olds are not forced into arranged marriages with grown men.

Cath Hughes
Cath Hughes

We'd like to somehow help.  I am sure education for the girls plays a real factor in this as well as her family needing money.  How can we help?

Caroline Jenkins
Caroline Jenkins

@Michael GH @Mariyam Mohammad That wasn't Judaism. That was cultural. For some reason that part of the world, extending into India, was inclined to force small children into "marriage", although even in these areas it could not have been the majority. Everywhere, puberty has been the marker for "marriage", in general.

Calisat Kress
Calisat Kress

@Heidi J @hab m That is not a quote from the Quran. Did you even look it up first to make sure that was what it said in the Quran? Wow I guess these days no cares about the garbage they spew. Fyi The Mummamad did not marry a child if you would have done any research you could have found that out. 

Caroline Jenkins
Caroline Jenkins

@Heidi J @hab m There is controversy over the age of Aisha (who grew up to become a scholar in her own right, and an advocate of Islam, traveling independently as was possible in those days) when the marriage was "consummated." There is scholarly opinion, in studying the chronology of the narritive, that Aisha was 19, not 9. Considering her healthy, independent nature, and the kindness & sensivity to the small and weak that is attributed by witnesses to Mohammed, it is almost unthinkable that he would have perpetrated a cruel act on a child.

The problem with religions is that so much of what we think about them comes down to us through faulty tales and myths that become gospel. btw, I am not a Muslim.

Mariyam Mohammad
Mariyam Mohammad

@Heidi J @hab m


A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. "A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse," the words of R. Meir. And sages say, "Three years and one day old." 

And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her. And they are liable on her account because of the law prohibiting intercourse with a married woman. And she imparts uncleanness to him who has intercourse with her when she is menstruating to convey uncleanness to the lower as to the upper layer. If she was married to a priest, she eats heave offering. If one of those who are unfit for marriage has intercourse with her, he has rendered her unfit to marry into the priesthood. If one of all those who are forbidden in the Torah to have intercourse with her did so, they are put to death on her account. But she is free of responsibility. 

If she is younger than that age, intercourse with her is like putting a finger in the eye. 

(Mishnah Niddah 5:4)

Child marriage


In Jewish Ashkenazi communities in the Middle Ages, girls were married off very young.[79] Despite the young threshold for marriage a large age gap between the spouses was opposed,[80] and, in particular, marrying one's young daughter to an old man was declared as reprehensible as forcing her into prostitution.[81] Child marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for girls. A ketannah (literally meaning "little [one]") was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day;[82] a ketannah was completely subject to her father's authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her without her agreement.[82] If the father was dead or missing, the brothers of the ketannah, collectively, had the right to arrange a marriage for her, as had her mother,[82] although in these situations a ketannah would always have the right to annul her marriage even if it was the first.[83] According to the Talmud a father is commanded not to marry his daughter to anyone until she grows up and says 'I want this one'.[84] A marriage that takes place without the consent of the girl is not an effective legal marriage.[85] If the marriage did end (due to divorce or the husband's death), any further marriages were optional; the ketannah had the right to annul them.[83] The choice of a ketannah to annul a marriage, known in Hebrew as mi'un (literally meaning "refusal", "denial", "protest"),[83] led to a true annulment, not a divorce; a divorce document (get) was not necessary,[86] and a ketannah who did this was not regarded by legal regulations as a divorcee, in relation to the marriage.[87] Unlike divorce, mi'un was regarded with distaste by many rabbinic writers,[83] even in the Talmud;[88] in earlier classical Judaism, one major faction - the House of Shammai - argued that such annulment rights only existed during the betrothal period (erusin) and not once the actual marriage (nissu'in) had begun.[89]

In modern times, child marriage is extremely rare in the Jewish community; it is banned by law in most countries.



Marty Le Renard
Marty Le Renard

@Amy Wright @Lhavanya DL There are many things Christians have done in the past that are comparable to those still practiced by other cultures now. Civilization is a learning process. What gets me is the resistance to learn of some. 

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