Ironically, the issue of child marriage, like abortion, is a dilemma for the left. The left is opposed to sex-selection abortions but works toward universal abortion-on-demand. Likewise, the left is against child marriage but is committed to “defend the rights of all young people to enjoy their sexual lives free from ill health, unwanted pregnancy, violence and discrimination.”
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) defines child marriage as “any marriage carried out below the age of 18.” Why do they oppose marriage before age 18? Because the girl is “physically, physiologically, and psychologically not ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing.” These are the same people who say teens are going to have sex anyway so it is better to provide them with condoms and encourage “safe sex.”
So, to be perfectly clear: for the left, child marriage is the problem, not the fact that the girls are engaging in sexual activity at too young an age. Like the left, most caring adults share this view of child marriage — which is almost always forced or coerced — as “socially licensed sexual abuse and exploitation of a child.” However, the problems of child marriage extend far beyond the left’s lament that girls forced to marry as children do not have “power in sexual decision making.” The left identifies “the fear and stigma attached to premarital sex and bearing children outside marriage” as a major reason parents force their girl child into marriage. Of course, the left identifies other reasons for parents to force a child marriage, but it is clear that IPPF and other organizations from the left are bothered more by the marriage of a girl child than by her too-early sexual initiation.
In fact, one of the reasons that the left promotes abortion is that young girls are usually not mature enough to handle the responsibilities of raising a child. So, sex is fine as long as the girl doesn’t bear a child or get married too young to handle the responsibilities of being a wife and mother. Also, the left is concerned that child marriage undermines the possibility that the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals will be realized.
Further, the left is bothered by the “cultural, societal and customary norms that shape and govern the institution of marriage and family life.” These norms are cited as a reason for the absence of “political will” to address child marriage. In other words, cultural norms that push marriage are wrong, but we need to change cultural norms so that teens can engage in premarital sex.
Both the left and the right, however, agree that child marriage should be eliminated.