She used to be Mine / Sie war früher Mein / Ela costumava ser Minha / Ella solia ser Mia

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Child brides face huge challenges because they are married as children. Child brides are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. Isolated and with limited freedom, married girls often feel disempowered.

They are deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education and safety; their personal development and wellbeing is put at risk. They face more risks of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence.

Child marriage is a human rights violation

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Child brides can be found in every region in the World, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe.

Every year, 12 million girls marry before the age of 18, that is 23 girls every minute. Over 650 million women alive today were married as children.

More than half of girls from the poorest families in the developing World are married as children. Where poverty is acute, families and sometimes girls themselves believe that marriage will be a solution to secure their future.

In communities where a ‘bride price’ is paid, it is often welcome income for poor families; in those where the bride’s family pays a ‘bride price’, they often have to pay less if the bride is young and uneducated.

In many communities where child marriage is practised, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have one less person to feed, clothe and educate.

Families may also see investing in their son’s education as more worthwhile investment. In some cases marriage of a daughter is a way to repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic and political alliances.

Child marriage is also driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc.

Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honour. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonour on their family.

Child marriage is a traditional practice that in many places happens simply because it has happened for generations. Traditional practices often go unquestioned because they have been part of a community’s life and identity for a very long time.

In some communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become women in the eyes of the community. Marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl her status as a wife and mother.

Harmful traditional practices can be linked to each other. In Ethiopia for instance, child marriage usually follows the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, which is considered a rite of passage to womanhood.

It’s not simple to say
Most days I don’t recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used to be
Although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl

She’s imperfect but she tries
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

It’s not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person
And makes you believe it’s all true
And now I’ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Who’ll be reckless just enough
Who’ll get hurt
But who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised
And gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day
‘Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone but used to be mine

Used to be mine
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

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