The international Day of Girl Child, a united nations initiative to raise awareness about the multitudes of unique challenges girls around the world face, is October 11. On the same day is the wedding of Thea, a 12-year old Norwegian girl. Yes, you read correctly, a 12 year old is getting married on that day to a 37 year old man and all the details of the upcoming wedding are shown on her wedding blog.
The blog kicked up a storm of controversy on social media and saw over half a million readers. It featured the youngster’s thoughts on her future, showing many images of her selecting cakes, make-up and the church for her special day, in addition to how intimidated by the prospect of sex she was!
Many contacted the police in Norway, and the hashtag #stoppbryllupet (stop the wedding) trended on Twitter as people voiced their alarm.
Thea is the first child bride in Norway. Or is she not? Thankfully, this blog and Thea’s story is not real. This story was arranged to prevent others from happening. It is part of a campaign by children’s development charity “Plan International” aimed at highlighting the 39,000 children every day who are forced into marriage.
The charity says “we believe that provocation is a powerful tool in order to demonstrate a reality that truly is very provoking. We hope people will mobilise against child marriage by being girl sponsors, so that most of the girls facing Thea’s situation every day can escape their brutal fate.”
This story was arranged to draw attention to the fate of the 142 million girls who in the next decade will be married, often against their will, before their 18th birthdays.
Thea’s blog also includes blog posts by real girls who actually were married off at a young age, including 15-year-old Latifa from Tanzania and 11-year-old Ranya from Bangladesh.
The campaign has started a national petition in Norway against child marriage. Plan International has also launched a UK-based initiative called #FaceUp.
Supporters can direct that interest toward helping real-world girls by becoming a sponsor. The program, set up by Plan, allows sponsors to make monthly donations to children who live in countries such as El Salvador, China or Sudan, who are in danger of being married off and, unlike Thea, are very real.
The sponsorships are supposed to prevent these potential marriages by replacing the savings and proceeds that families would get by selling off their daughters at a young age.
These girls are being robbed off their childhood. It is time for everyone to wake up and help stop child marriages worldwide.
(Source: Huffington Post UK)