Operation Mobilization USA Sounds an Alarm for Girls in South Asia Being Sold as Brides

Learning how to read gives women and girls self-esteem and hope. With the Bible as the teaching text, they can experience God’s amazing love for themselves. (Photo courtesy OM USA)

Picture a little girl from rural South Asia, a six- or seven-year-old from Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh.  Instead of starting school, David Lovett of Operation Mobilization USA says she – and other little girls like her – only have a few years left to enjoy childhood.

Then comes marriage, often to a man old enough to be their dad or grandpa. “Especially in rural areas with high illiteracy, young girls – [some] even as young as ten-,11-, 12-, 13- [years old] – are being married to older men,” Lovett says.

“In Bangladesh, something like 22-percent of young girls are being married before they’re 15 years of age.”

OM USA partners with churches and NGOs to give kids like these a different future – one rooted in Christ’s love and hope. Here’s how you can help

How much does a girl child cost?

According to UNICEF, South Asia leads the world in child marriages. Child marriage affects both boys and girls globally, but it affects girls disproportionately – especially in South Asia:

Child marriage violates children’s rights and places them at high risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. India has the largest number of brides in the world – one-third of the global total. Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia (the fourth-highest rate in the world). Nepal has also one the highest rates of child marriage in Asia for both boys and girls.

A report released earlier this week says the COVID-19 pandemic could make this trend worse. UNICEF officials say the economic side effects of coronavirus restrictions will likely drive families deeper into poverty, putting an estimated 600 million children at higher risk of exploitation.

Desperate times lead to desperate measures. If family members cannot produce an income, they become expendable. “In one of these countries, if you are a young kid – five, six, or seven years old – you’re already rolling cigarettes by hand [for up to] seven hours a day, for about $1 a day,” Lovette says.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth

CALL TO ACTION

  • Ask the Lord to intervene and stop the culturally-accepted practice of child marriage.
  • Pray for Needata and other former child brides. Pray they find comfort and new identity in Christ.
  • Pray for needed funds to support and sustain this critical work.