I Now Pronounce You Man and– WHAT?
When you think of child marriage, you probably don’t think about a modern-day issue, or at least not one that affects Americans.
Instead, you may think of foreign cultures or antiquated traditions involving family names, dowries, and controlling parents who completely mandate their child’s destiny. Though children were commonly married throughout history–especially for reproductive purposes within powerful families at a time when life expectancy was much lower–today, statistics show that Americans are marrying later than ever.
Still, the sad truth is that children across the world are getting married at ages 15, 12, and even younger, often to partners much older than themselves. Whether for social, familial, or economic means, it’s hard to believe that kids–especially girls–are having their entire lives cut out for them by adults long before they’ve even realized their own potential.
If you still don’t think child marriage is a problem in the United States, think again. This social experiment stunned New Yorkers by showing a fake child marriage photo shoot taking place in Times Square– the onlookers’ reactions are not what you might expect.
How would you react if you saw this?
According to UNICEF, girls are disproportionately affected by child marriage, although young boys are also made child grooms.
Prevalent in developing countries across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, more than 700 million women today were married when they were children, and about a third of them were married before the age of 15. Statistically, women who marry as children are less likely to pursue education as their purpose becomes focused on childrearing. Sadly, children born to girls under the age of 18 are 60% more likely to die in infancy, and the mortality rate of 15-19-year-old girls across the world is heavily impacted by young pregnancies.
Though child marriage has become less common over the past 30 years, countries such as Niger, Bangladesh, and the Central African Republic have child marriage rates of over 60%.
The Social Experiment
YouTube actor Coby Persin has produced several videos that take social experiments to the next level.
This time around, he posed as a wedding photographer for a 12-year-old bride and her senior citizen groom, who casually spoke in a foreign accent when questioned by angry bystanders, claiming he had the girl’s parents’ permission to wed her.
The girl stays silent and looks forlorn as New Yorkers and tourists in Times Square watch on in confusion, horror, and anger. How would you have reacted to seeing something like this?