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Friday, November 25

Prolonged drought increases child brides among Guatemala's poor

Here is another of the many ways drought brings devastation to a society and worsens situations that keep entire countries in poverty. 

As to the issue of child brides as distinct from its connection to droughts, when are these people going to figure out that keeping females uneducated creates a massive internal 'brain drain' in a nation?'  

In this era, the challenges to survival for a nation are too many and complex for only one part of the adult population, the male part, to shoulder all responsibility for dealing with the challenges. And yet the challenges are such that it requires education to comprehend them and work out solutions.

I understand that the better-off nations can't let these people starve en masse, but the problem with all types of foreign assistance is that it keeps propping up ways of thinking in the recipient country that in the present era range from counterproductive to devastating.

Then the worst victims flee to other countries. But that just takes heat off the victims' government, so it can continue with stupid policies and massive corruption. Then foreign governments throw more aid at the country in an attempt to staunch the outflow of refugees.        

Experts: Impoverished families in drought-stricken Guatemala flout child-marriage ban
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Updated Nov 23, 2016

The Guam Daily Post

BOGOTA – A year after Guatemala passed a law banning child marriage, poor families who regard girls as a financial burden are still marrying them off as prolonged drought plunges many into deeper poverty, campaigners say.


Two consecutive years of drought in Guatemala and other parts of Central America has exacerbated poverty and hunger in the agriculture-dependent country since mid-2014.

"The drought means girls face an increased risk of getting married or living with an older man because the drought affects a household's income and people are worse off," said Marilis Barrientos, advocacy director for World Vision in Guatemala.

"This puts more pressure on girls to have to find a man to live with and leave home," she said.


Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America, long driven by poverty and cultural acceptance especially among the country's Maya indigenous communities, with around one third of girls married by 18.

Each year more than 15 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18, campaign group Girls Not Brides says.

Girls forced into marriage as payment of parents' debt

Under the new law, the minimum age for marriage in Guatemala was raised to 18 but children can still get married at 16 with a judge's permission.

Since the ban on child marriage, judges have approved 12 of 37 requests for marriage for children aged 16 or 17.

In one petition for marriage that was overturned by a judge, a 16-year-old girl told the judge her father was forcing her to marry a man more than double her age so he could pay off a debt.

"The girl told the judge she wanted to have nothing to do with the man and that she was getting married because her father needed to pay a debt," said Debora Cobar, head of charity Plan International in Guatemala and a former children's state prosecutor.

Bartered for cattle or land, sold for cash

In some rural communities, girls are still sold off in exchange for cattle, cash and or plots of land, Cobar said.

Others are living with older men, pushed into marriage as families struggle to put food on the table or break with long-held traditions, she said.

"Girls are exploited. They become a servant, a sex slave," Cobar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.


Solution: Teach girls about their rights, make sure they can attend school

Child marriage deprives girls of education, keeps them in poverty, and puts them at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

One key way to prevent child marriage is to educate girls about their rights and ensure they go to school.

"The law is important but it's not enough," said Aida Siman, UNFPA's representative in Guatemala.

"When girls aren't in school, they are more likely to get married early and get pregnant."



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