Shocking pictures of a wedding in The Philippines have shown a 48-year-old man getting married to a 13-year-old child bride. The wedding was said to have taken place on the 22nd of October in the Filipino town of Mamasapano.
Since the distribution of the images, some of which show the man kissing the girl, there has been worldwide outrage.
The girl is said to be 48-year-old farmer Abdulrzak Ampatuan’s 5th wife. Polygamy, the marrying of multiple partners, is an accepted practice in some parts of the Islamic world. While The Philippines is a majority Roman Catholic nation and polygamy is banned for non-Muslims, it is still legal for Muslims in the country to marry multiple women.
The man is believed to have said of the wedding:
“I am happy to have found her and spend my days with her taking care of my children.”
He also said that he plans to have children with the girl once she turns 20. It is unclear whether the girl gave any sort of consent to the marriage and it is thought likely that she was forced into it by her family. In many poor parts of the world where opportunities for women are slim, families often marry them off as quickly as possible in order to secure what they believe will be a better life for them.
Child marriage is a global problem and, in The Philippines alone, as many as 700,000 child-brides are thought to exist, the 12th highest number in the world. Such marriages in the country exist across all faiths and backgrounds.
‘Girls Not Brides’, a group that campaigns against child marriage, said that child-marriage severely limits a woman’s chances to advance educationally, emotionally, and financially and often leads them into a lifetime of servitude.
The group said in a statement:
“Child marriage is a human rights violation that we must end to achieve a better future for all. Isolated and with limited freedom, married girls often feel disempowered. They are deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education, and safety. Child brides are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers.”
UNICEF estimates that there are currently 650 million women alive today who got married before they were 18 and around 5 million more under 18 get married every single year across the world.