In many different countries and parts of the world, young women’s marriage before the age of 18 is a reality to be lived. Some studies were made using 40 Demographic and Health Surveys show that a considerable percentage of women in civilized and developed countries continue to marry at an early age. The statistics showed 20-25% of women get married at the age of 18, and 40-70% of women marry at the age of twenty. Early marriage is widely spread in Africa and South Asia, and is least common in North Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia (International Family Planning Perspectives, 22:148-157 & 175, 1996).
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Overview about early marriage
Some previous presentations showed that the phenomenon of early marriage was related to the high poverty and social constraints due to conflicts, political and economical obstacles, instability, and shortage of services in education, housing, and professional development. Consequently, it was common that parents would encourage their daughters to get married at an early age in hopes that this marriage will enhance both their financial and social status. However, early marriage for young girls is considered as a form of violation of human rights, since it compromises the physical, mental, psychological, educational and emotional development of girls. This tradition could be a harmful practice; and consequently, its harmful effects are many. For instance, girls will be denied the right to freely express their views, the right to be defended against detrimental and devastating traditional practices. Moreover, early marriage requires the performance of heavy household and marital responsibilities including the raising of children. The question here raises itself, how will child mothers raise their children while they are still children themselves.
For this reason, the following research studies the awareness students have about the causes and effects of early marriage, and questions their opinion on whether they support or not early marriage.
In order to determine the way of gathering and receiving the information, we have first structured and designed a questionnaire, and then asked 70 randomly selected female students to fill in the questionnaire form.
The questionnaire included 8 questions that started with general questions about the age and the marital status of the respondents; then we have tackled more topic- related questions regarding the suitable age for marriage and why in the respondent’s opinion it is regarded as a suitable age for marriage, the causes and effects of early marriage, whether divorce is considered as the most common effect of early marriage, and finally whether the respondents agree or disagree on early marriage.
Over a period of 2 days, we have distributed 100 questionnaires among the students and the returned response rate was 70 %. Given that this questionnaire was conducted in a very short period of time; however, we have received a considerable and impressive response rate from the students, this reflects that the questionnaire has stimulated an extraordinary interest in the topic.
Percentage of Return Rate
Abu Dhabi University
We have composed our database on the basis of tallying the numbered questions, where the questions that offered a multiple choice of responses were allocated with different alphabetical letters.
Statistical Data and Graph Analysis
Age of the Respondents
As shown in the pie graph below, and based on the results we have gathered from our questionnaire, the highest proportion which is 65 % of the respondents’ ages ranged between 20 and 25 years old; where 22.8% of the respondents were below 20 years old. On the other hand, a very small percentage of 8.57 of the participants’ age ranged between 26 and 30 years old, where as the lowest rate of 2.86 % were for the respondents’ whose age is above 30 years old.
The following diagram shows the marital status of the students who participated in the survey. Statistics showed that the majority or 80 % of the respondents are single; whereas only 20 % are married.
Among the 20 % of the married respondents, 28.5% were married below the age of 18, 7.2 % were married at the age of 20, 28.5% were in union above the age of 22; yet, at the descriptive point, 35.7 % was the proportion of women who didn’t mention at what age they got married.
What is the suitable age for marriage?
Marriageable age (or marriage age) as defined by Wikipedia is, “the age at which a person is allowed to marry, either as of right or subject to parental or other forms of consent”. However, in our questionnaire, we have asked the students their opinion about the suitable age for marriage.
The statistics that we have gathered on this query was bounded to two choices out of four. Though, both choices form a percentage that might be considered to be significant; however, there are differences. The percentage claiming that the suitable age for marriage ranges between 20 and 25 years old was noticeably high, as it reached 74.29 %. On the other hand, 25.71 % of the respondents consider that the age ranging between 26 and 30 is the ideal age for marriage.
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As we have previously mentioned that the aim and objective of our research is to study the level of awareness women have about the impact early marriage has on women and how it can affect or threat the fulfillment of young women’s rights. Therefore, through our questionnaire, we developed further questions that would allow us to tackle more deep issues about the subject and that would enable us to highlight the respondent’s opinion regarding specific details. For instance, as a continuation for the previous question, we asked the students why they think that the age they have selected to be a suitable age for marriage is in their opinion suitable. Likewise, we have listed a list of possible reasons for them to choose.
The 74.29 % who supports marriage between 20 and 25 years old justified their choice as follows:
The reading can be presented in the following percentages:
- 33.64 % responded: Able and ready for household responsibilities
- 32.71% responded: Will have mental maturity
- 25.35 % responded: Able and physically ready to have children
- 9.86 % responded: Will provide her an economic and financial stability
- 0 % Don’t Know
- 0 % Other
We can tell that there is a strong proximity between the first two choices; where the majority believes that girls between 20 and 25 years old will be able and ready to bear the domestic responsibilities and will have the maturity level that would enable her to face constrained decisions in life. A close percentage of responses supported the fact that at this same age, girls would reach a physical maturity that would enable her to have children. Conversely, figures supporting the choice that marriage can provide the girl a stable financial status were minor in comparison to the other choices.
As for the 25.7 % of those who support marriage between 26 and 230 years, had different justification which are read as follows:
- 34.29% responded: Able and ready for household responsibilities
- 22.86% responded: Will have mental maturity
- 28.57 % responded: Able and physically ready to have children
- 11.43 % responded: Will provide her an economic and financial stability
- 0 % Don’t Know
- 2.86 % Other
The responses for this group of respondents were not so far from that of the first group. We can spot out from the closeness in percentage rates that there is a somehow similarity and consistency in responses.
The above readings would indicate that approximately there are three factors that mostly contribute in determining the suitable age for marriage. These factors are: The ability and readiness to hold domestic duties, mental maturity, and finally the physical readiness to have children.
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