The messenger logo

Do not marry a child!

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, September 5
Everyone who is under 18 is a child according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

My acquaintance got married when she was 15. Now a single mother she does her best to ensure her daughter will not get married until she receives full education.

This all is happening in the capital Tbilisi. But in the villages the families rarely help their daughters receive knowledge; they had better found a suitable husband. Who cares what a girl wants? No one. Lucky is she if she falls in love with the man her family has chosen, otherwise, she will have to get used.

According to the article 140 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, major’s sexual intercourse with one under sixteen, “shall be punishable by restriction of freedom for the term not in excess of three years or by jail sentence for the term not exceeding three months or by imprisonment up to three years in length”, while according to the article 141 “perversion without violence at the previous knowledge of the offender with the one under sixteen years, shall be punishable by fine or by corrective labour for up to one years in length or by imprisonment for the term not in excess of two years.”

On this World Population Day on July, 11, 2014, United Nations Secretary-General called on everyone with influence to prioritize youth in development plans, strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations, and involve young people in all decisions that affect them, because according to him, “by empowering today’s youth, we will lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

I think girls’ marriage should be considered only in parallel with all the above mentioned priorities. However, they should have the right to decide everything for themselves without any compulsion.

According to the article 1108 of the Civil Code of Georgia, “the age of marriage shall be defined as eighteen years”, while according to article 1109 – “prior consent of the prospective spouses (engagement) shall not create the obligation to marry thereafter.” Well, I have heard from many girls and/or their parents saying they cannot refuse to marry a man as they have promised.

According to article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), “the betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”

Moreover, men and women have equal right to “choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent”.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the families define the fate of their daughters themselves. The cases, when the girls get married as teenagers are more frequent in the rural areas. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), early marriage is typical for Kvemo Kartli and Adjara.

At some places, girls are even being engaged from the cradle.

However, these girls become direct victims of such customs as in most cases they remain without education, can hardly find jobs and depend on their husbands. Who knows how their fates would develop if they could finish the school, get high education and find relevant jobs?

If a girl is lucky enough to marry a modest man who is a family man and thinks about his wife’s personal development, he may let her continue studying, but if he is not… so what? Some people, unfortunately, still think a woman’s place is yet in the kitchen…

I have started realizing things I could not fully understand before - the family, which on the one hand, takes care of the daughter’s fate, on the other hand, destroys her life.

At first, when a child becomes a mother, or gets ready for motherhood, she has not at all realized the responsibility she will have as a parent. It is not worth talking about the boys who somehow consider that children are only girls’ business.

Secondly, teenagers have high risk of dying while pregnancy, losing the child, giving birth to short-lived newborn, or remaining childless forever.

Thirdly, early sex can cause sexually transmitted infections and venereal diseases. I doubt many young people would think about the necessity of medical analyses and consultations before starting the sexual life.

And finally, the majority of girls remain without education, profession, income and love if they get married early.

According to the statistical data on early marriages of 2012, girls were from 16 to 19 when they got married in 4 137 cases out of 30 412, while from 34% of married girls between 15 and 19 have secondary education, 7% - secondary but not full and 49% - no education at all.

On June 20, 2014, Georgian Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which means that the state has taken a great responsibility According to its article 37 “parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of forcing an adult or a child to enter into a marriage is criminalised.”

However strange it may seem, it is not enough to only write law and sign it!

Every third girl from 28 European Union member states, who has reached 15, is the victim of physical or sexual violence. This is not an ordinary statistics. It is a tragedy!

Originally posted at, August 21, 2014