Sarah Tasneem was forced to grow up sooner than her peers.When she was 15, her father gave her to a 28-year-old man to be married.My dad had become involved in a very kind of like a… It’s basically kind of like a cult, separate from like the religion of Islam, I think.It was your role as a girl that you had just, you know, be a wife and a mom.
Tasneem who uses this name to protect her identity, said she was spiritually married to the man and taken away from her own family.We left the country, went back to where he was originally from, and I came back about six months later when I was pregnant and 16 years old.And we were legally married in Reno.I got really depressed and I just remember seeing like, you know, kids of my age going to school, and thinking you know, I want to be one of those kids.Tasneems’ experience is not unique in the U.S.
A study of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds that from 2010 to 2014, some 78000 American children between 15 and 17 years old said they were married.It’s a problem because they are less likely to finish high school.31 percent more likely to land in poverty in adulthood, and for girls, their health is threatened when they give birth young, and the health of their babies is threatened.
The data also shows an aspect of child marriage that sets the U.S. apart from other countries.The boys are getting married young, too.The study shows higher numbers of children of American, Indian and Chinese descentwere married.Immigrant children were more likely than US-borned children to have been married.This is not unique to any one religion.There are child marriages across all ethnic groups and countries of origin,but those children who come from families that originated in Latin America, the Middle East or East Asia do have higher rates.It is also the case that children whose parents were born here in the United States still have far higher rates than would be acceptable.
Tasneems’ had two children with her husband before she could get a divorce.So I really felt robbed.I felt robbed of my education and to this day, I’m still fighting to get my education back.At 37 years old, her children are grown and she recently remarried, but getting to this point has not been easy.There’s really no way to make somebody whole after, you know, taking away their freedom.Researchers say survivors’ stories may help the public understand the effects of being married too young.
Elizabeth Lee, VOA News, Los Angeles.