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Count Your Blessings: Day 42


One in three girls in Niger are married before the age of 15, and 75% are married before the age of 18.

Give 50p if you have attended a wedding in the last year where the bride and groom were over the age of 18.

I think this is a single donation irrespective of how many weddings one may have attended.  But as I only went to one, it is just semantics anyway.  A couple in their late twenties or early thirties, who had been together for many years already.  Pretty typical in the UK these days, I guess.

A number of years back I researched the history of the 'age of consent' in the UK and the variations across the western world in both in 'age of consent' and 'age for marriage'.  We have long since forgotten the debt we owe the Salvation Army who campaigned to bring an age of consent for girls/women... of twelve.  It is comparatively recently that in the west we have increased the age to 14, 15, 16 (and it varies across Europe and North America in that range to this day).  We have forgotten that for the first half of the 20th century, the school leaving age was 14 or 15, with teenagers taking on adult responsibilities sometimes before their bodies reached puberty, and as a result even if they married young, often still virgins.  Now we are about to increase the school leaving age to eighteen, effectively prolonging childhood, at a time when puberty comes earlier, bringing with it its own challenges.  All of this is a very long way of me saying I'm not sure that age is necessarily the best means of expressing the issue here.

In parts of Africa it is still customary to pay a 'bride price' - one of our Nigerian folk at church recently went home to marry and had to fulfil this obligation, at least notionally.  In the poorest of families, marrying off your daughter will bring in much needed resources, whether cash or livestock, and it is this that motivates early marriage.  Rightly or wrongly, I'm less troubled by the idea of women being married at a young age, than the fact that they become chattels to be exchanged for money, simply to enable the rest of their families to attempt to get by.

So I'll give my 50p gladly, but I'm not doing so 'just' o grounds of age.

My pledge

Today - 50p

Total - £43.20, seven prayers, some thoughts and one e-petition signed

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