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“We find that marrying early brings a higher bridewealth, which may incentivize early marriage of daughters for parents to some extent,” Schaffnit said.“But marrying at ages 15 to 17 is not obviously detrimental to daughters, with the wellbeing of those marrying early largely indistinguishable from those that marry above 18 years.
“We’re not claiming that girls are never forced into early marriages,” he said.
“This certainly happens in some contexts, including in Tanzania.
And other countries have an older minimum age of marriage, such as Nepal, where the law requires people be at least 20 when they marry.
The concept of marriage also varies – it can be formal or informal, governed by civil law, common law or religious law, or simply be a customary practice.
But in a small number of countries, adulthood, or the “age of majority” may be reached before age 18.
(The Convention on the Rights of the Child makes an exception for national laws recognizing an earlier age of majority.) Some countries and cultures consider adulthood a state achieved upon marriage – for example, countries where full age means the age of 18 years and above, and any married woman is deemed to be of full age.A global movement to end “child marriage” often assumes that they are coerced into marrying by their families at a cost to their schooling, mental health and physical wellbeing.“That’s a dominant narrative within the international development sector, that ‘child marriage’ happens because daughters are forced to marry at young ages for their parents’ financial benefit and that marrying early is fundamentally harmful to the girl’s wellbeing,” said Susan Schaffnit, a postdoctoral scholar in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Anthropology.But in contexts where ‘child marriage’ mainly takes place in late adolescence, and where autonomy in partner choice is clearly apparent, we need to be careful not to falsely vilify parents.For some young women, it may represent a strategic choice to marry early and be the best locally available option, especially if they are already sexually active or they have started having children.” Schaffnit also notes the importance of considering locally-available options.“It is critical that our understanding of early marriage is grounded in reality, not stereotypes or surface impressions,” Lawson said. Both the words “child” and “marriage” are sometimes interpreted differently. How old are the children involved in child marriages? What does teen pregnancy have to do with child marriage? Is it insensitive to interfere with other countries’ religious or cultural traditions around child marriage? What is the difference between child marriage, early marriage and forced marriage?Lawson was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant that will fund further research on early marriage in Tanzania for two years.The NSF Cultural Anthropology Program Senior Research Award totals roughly 0,000.