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    Early Marriage Essay (3767 words)

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    Marriage, as a fundamental social and cultural institution and as the most common milieu for bearing and rearing children, profoundly shapes sexual behaviours and practices. It is undeniable that early marriage is a controversial yet hot topic that gets the attention of the professionals across many fields such as economy, psychology and sociology. The age at first marriage variegates across the globe. Being married before the age of 18 has been a social norm in third world countries [refer to Appendix A].

    The percentage of women being married before age 18 is estimated from 20 to 50 percent in average in developing countries (Joyce, et al. , 2001). But then, developed countries are unlikely to experience the resembling pattern of matrimony. The marital union is normally delayed too long although this practise is believed to bring the most apparent reason for the breakdown in sexual ethics (Orsi, 2001). Out of its wealth and egoistic, western society chooses to marry later in life until they have built a decent maturity in age, education and financial state.

    As early marriage is widely practiced in developing countries, a global issue has arisen as to whether early marriage does really hinder self development due to the consequences it brings to young girls. The practice is believed to bring several benefits to some extent. However, the adverse effects it brings can impede the self-development of young adolescences in many aspects including health consequences, character building and education as well as career opportunities. 1. 2Purpose of Research The main purpose of this research is to discover students’ opinion about early marriage.

    Do they agree with early marriage or not. The second goal is to know whether early marriage brings either benefits or harms to students. Even though early marriage is already becoming a social norm in the third world countries [refer to Appendix A] the society still does not fully aware of this phenomenon. Thus the third goal of this research is to increase the awareness of the society regarding early marriage. 1. 3Method of Research For the purpose of this research, relevant information was obtained from internet and books.

    This report is divided into several parts such as background information, factors that lead to early marriage, advantages and disadvantages of early marriage, as well as either early marriage can impede self development of young adolescence or not. A set of questionnaire will be distributed to 35 SAM student of INTI International University College. Some of the questions are using 6-point Likert scale, as it is the best measurement scale to gain people’s response without anyone sitting on the fence (Faculty Senate Advancement of Teaching (AOT) Committee, 2004).

    An interview also will be conducted as part of the research techniques.


    1. Terms and Terminologies Oxford Advance Learners’ Dictionary (2006, page 481 and 941), defines early as near to the beginning of a period. Meanwhile, marriage means the legal relationship between a husband and wife. In short, early marriage means the legal relationship between a husband and wife at the beginning of their youth life. (Oyortey, N & Pobi, S 2003) They also defines early matrimony as any marriage that take place before the party involved is at least 18 years old (Oyortey, N & Pobi, S 2003).

    Statistical Studies of Early Marriage 1. Prevalence of Young Marriage The practice of young marriage is most common in developing countries (United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2001). As reported by Joyce (2001), the analysis made by Demographic and Healthy Survey data shows the countries which face most cases of early marriage are Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asian regions. Among the countries that have high cases of young marriage, Niger is the most distinctively affected country with 88 percent of the women married before the age of 18. [pic]

    Adapted From: Joyce, L. F. , et al. (2001). Future Options Foreclosed: Girls Who Marry Early. Reproductive Health and Rights. 139-143. Retrieved January 25, 2008, from the World Wide Web: http://www. path. org/files/RHR-Article-14. pdf. 3. Major Factors That Lead to Early Marriage The reasons leading to the immense number of youngsters that marry in most developing countries varies. Poverty is one of the main factors underpinning early marriage (Joyce, 2001). A young girl is regarded as an economic burden to a poor family, thus early marriage is considered as a strategy for economic survival.

    A recent study of five very poor villages in Egypt shows that young girls are being married off to much older men from oil-rich Middle Eastern countries for family survival (UNICEF, 2001). Besides, early marriage is one way to vouch that a girl is secured from physical and sexual harassments (UNICEF, 2001). Many parents from different beliefs and customs regard that early marriage is essential to safeguard their daughters from these abuses. For instance, some families in Northern Uganda encourage their young girls to marry militia members in order to secure protection (UNICEF, 2001).

    Furthermore, as reported by Mathur in her report, they emphasized that gender roles is one of the main causes of the occurrence of early matrimony. (Mathur, S, et al 2003) A study conducted shows that in major culture of the developing countries, the transition age of a girl from children to adulthood are not meant for them to find their own personality. Whereas, all the experience they gain during the time span of being adolescence are only for them to be prepared for matrimony (Mathur, S, et al 2003) Additionally, another factor that contributes to early spousal relationship is because of the fear that the girl may lose her virginity before she gets married since many regard it as the paramount attribute to a girl’s esteem. (Mathur, S, et al 2003) A survey had revealed that early marriage was considered as a solution of pregnancy outside of marriage. (Huq and Amin, 2001 as cited in Mathur S et al, 2003) And in the third world countries, marriage shortly after puberty is common among those living traditional lifestyles (Joyce, 2001). 2. Opponents’ Views Against Early Marriage 3. 1 The Denial of Education

    The opposition of early marriage believed that early marriage denies the right of young adolescents especially for female to the education they postulate for self-development. In traditional societies, the investment for a girl’s education is thought to be wasted as the girl is going to marry and stay at home doing household chores (UNICEF, 2001). For instance, Demographic Health Survey data collected from Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan had shown a clear link between marriage and withdrawal from school (UNICEF, 2001). A girl will drop out from school, if a good marriage prospect arises (UNICEF, 2001).

    Because of the early end of female education, they will have constricted chances of enhancing skills and acquiring knowledge, restricting their economic and career opportunities (Joyce, 2001). This is because withdrawal from school will results in functionally illiterate and unskilled women causing them to have no perceivable part in many professional field. 2. Health and Reproduction Problem Those who are not in the favour of early marriage had argued that early childbearing which always occurs in early marriage endanger the lives of both the mother and her baby (Joyce, 2001).

    The early pregnancy increases the risk of complications and dying during delivery. A report shows that the risk of death due to pregnancy-related cases is doubled among women aged from 15 to 19 compared to adult women (Adhikari, 2006). They further stressed that these girls are also more susceptible to sexually-transmitted diseases (UNICEF, 2001). A girl is physiologically more inclined to contracting HIV/AIDS, based on the idea stating that a girl vagina is still not yet well protected with protective cells and her cervix may be more easily eroded (Oyortey, N & Pobi, S 2003).

    For instance, in some of the worst affected African countries, teenage girls are being infected at a rate of five to six times greater than those of young men (Oyortey, N & Pobi, S 2003). 3. Psychosocial Disadvantages When early marriage takes place, the girl will be confronted by some, if not many, emotional stress. Sociologists suggested that this is due to their confinement at home because of the endless household chores hence denying them of their freedom (UNICEF, 2001). Most of the girls that are affected by the aforementioned situation will eventually have negative effects on their emotional well being.

    An Indian research conducted in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh found that the spouses of early marriage usually suffered from great psychosocial damage (UNICEF, 2001). Another concern raised by the opponents is that the young girl loses her social life outside her family cycle and this will affect her chances of cultivating her own identity (UNICEF, 2001). The most important implication of this is that her self-esteem is silently hindered from being developed and this will make her vulnerable to sexual and physical violence.

    In Eastern Africa for instance, a young wife has no rights to refuse sex to her husband even though her partner is suspected with HIV (UNICEF, 2001). 4. 0 Proponents’ Views on Early Marriage 4. 1 Health Benefits The proponents believed that body functions are more effective and healthy at early stage in life. For women, the body is particularly geared towards reproduction during early adulthood (Orsi, 2001). Early marriage is beneficial because desire and energy from young couples produce healthy offspring.

    As for Muslim, they must not neglect the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad that encourages early marriage among young couples so they can produce healthy offspring. (Judith K. M. , (n. d)). They also highlighted that later marriage has led to problematic births and birth defects. This can happen, as the body is unlikely to handle any great burden at later age like pregnancy (Orsi, 2001). Not surprisingly, later marriage, which is always, associated with cohabitation and premarital sex increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (Orsi, 2001).

    The hazardous infections as HIV will spread widely if the practice of premarital sex has became a lifestyle. 4. 2 Early marriage as the solution of committing sin from religious perspectives. Christian teaching proscribes its worshipper from the extra marital activities; Islam regards sex before marriage as a major sin. So, to counter the problems that all young people seem to have, which is sexual desire, early marriage is promoted. As age increasing, gradually, one will get matured and it is well known that sexual desire take place after puberty.

    While there is no exact boundary to socialise in the nowadays society, sexual activities will take place among teenagers (Judith K. M. , (n. d)). Although this is a good sign, however, the young Muslim will follow the wrong path by committing sins (Kermalli, Y G. , May 2006). Living in the non-Muslim society is really hard although for the true worshippers because of the different values and the needs of strong yet constant awareness (Judith K. M. , (n. d)).

    As prevention before things become worst, it is better for them to get married and make sex without worrying about sins. (Kermalli, Y G. , May 2006) 4. 3 Self-development Improvement Some experts claim that early marriage helps in cultivating maturity. Early marriage is looked upon as a platform for young people to mature together. Moreover, they share experiences at an early age before any trace of egoism take roots in their heart. This is important to ensure a successful marriage is established (Orsi, 2001).

    They further emphasized that early marriage is a natural institution to grow emotionally by everyday give and take at an early age. This foundation is hard to build later in life. Also, through The London Telegraph, Emma Besbrode has reported that individuals that are unmarried by early age are more vulnerable to depression and loneliness (Orsi, 2001). This lack of balance in emotional development will lead to a stressful life. 5. 0 Recommendation The government can intervene by several ways in order to curb the problem of early marriage such as providing economic activities.

    A survey conducted at Taiwan and Bangladesh shows that both parents and daughters become more willing to delay the marriage when their daughters were given a job opportunity (Mathur, S, et al 2003). Besides that, the government can step in by promoting education for young women since the acceptance of education during their adolescent years can cause them to delay their marriage to a later date in life. A report from Bangladesh shows that giving away scholarship to female students relieves them of their intention of marrying early (Mathur, S, et al 2003).

    Another way of curbing this problem is by implementing extra security measures to assure the related parents to the security of their daughters when going abroad, such as providing safe social space (Mathur, S, et al 2003). This can reduce the factor by which this problem first occurs, that is the fear of the young woman’s parents for the safety of their beloved daughter. 6. 0 Survey A survey had been conducted on 35 SAM students of INTI International University College, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia to seek their honest reviews on early marriage. 3 of these 35 students surveyed are male and the other remaining 22 students are female.

    All of them are between the ages of 18 to 20 years old. 80% of the students come from urban area and the other 20% come from rural area. The majority of the respondents were Chinese, followed by Malays, Indians, and Punjabi, with the number of person of 22, 8, 2 and 1 respectively. When the particular question regarding the vitality of getting hold of a degree to the respondents were asked, 77% of them answered very important, 17% answered important while the rest remain neutral.

    As for the next question, when is the best time for them to get married, 74% answered after tertiary education, the remaining 26% are those who are either do not know when is the best time to get married and they do not get married at all. In the survey, they were asked for their opinion on the statement that marriage can change someone for the better. About 50% of them slightly agreed, 23% of them agreed, and the remaining 27% strongly disagreed with the statement. As for the 6-point Likert Scale question, answers varied from one to another.

    When they were asked about their opinion regarding early marriage causing various health problems, about 70% of them answered within the range of slightly agree to strongly agree, that is 40% chose slightly agree, 23% said agree and 6% answered strongly agree while the remaining 20% said slightly disagree, 9% answered disagree and the rest chose strongly disagree. Then, when they were asked regarding the importance of education towards youngster who had married, 62% ticked within the range of slightly disagree to strongly disagree, which is 14% said slightly disagree, 20% answered disagree, and remaining 28% chose strongly disagree.

    This means, according to the survey, they still need education although they had married. When they were asked about their opinion regarding the impact of early marriage and the social life of the youngsters, from the overall view, the respondents disagreed with the statement as more than 50% of them ticked the box with the range of somehow disagree until strongly disagree, which is 25% of my respondents said slightly disagree, 40% answered disagree and the balance 17% chose strongly disagree. Next, more than 80% of the respondents agreed that couples who married early will end up having financial woes with numbers 25% of my respondents strongly agree with the statement, 31% of them agree and 20% of them slightly disagree. As for the last question of the 6-point Likert scale sections, about 85% of the respondents said they agreed with the statement that young married couples will have more marital stressor and bear more responsibilities.

    Apart from that, the respondents also were asked whether they have any experience regarding early marriage or not, and only 22% of them have experience about it. 4 cases caused by pregnancy out of marriage, a case because of love and 3 cases because of arranged marriage. Out of the 8 cases responded, 2 couples are not happy with their current situation because of various reasons, one of it is that they do not have strong economic foundation. Finally, when they were asked about their final comment on early marriage, about 86% of the respondents were against early marriage because of different reasons.

    Many of the respondents believed that marriage is a big responsibility and youngsters just do not have the capability to bear it yet. They also quoted that youngsters are not yet stable, both financially and mentally. Another reason is that youngsters are usually lacking of knowledge and experiences, which will affect their decision making. Other reason included is that marriage institutions will only affect the youngsters’ education, usually for the worse. That is some of the opinions of the respondents regarding early marriage. 7. 0 Interview

    The interview that had been conducted to assist me in collecting more information on early marriage had been conducted with Encik Eizzul ‘Ala bin Baijuri, a former Chief Justice at Shari ‘a Court and currently working as the Vice Director, Department of Islamic Education JAKIM, Putrajaya, Malaysia. The interview was conducted on Friday, July 11th 2008. He believes that early marriages in nowadays context are actually giving more harm than good to youngsters. Statistic from JAKIM shows that in 2007, the number of young couples married nationally is 13086 couples.

    On the other hand, the number of divorcement among them is about 2053 couples. According to him, teenagers who get married early actually are creating a fragile family. This is because, they did not know how to differentiate between “like” and “love”. They are also have not yet discover the worlds with a greater view. Who knows in future, they might meet a person that is far much better and more understanding compared to their current partner. One day, they might regret their decision to get married early. Based on his experience handling marriage cases in Shari ‘a Court, there are numbers of factors that contribute to early marriage.

    Some of the cases were caused by love and arranged marriage but it is not as significant as compared to the cases that are caused by premarital sex. Sex outside of legal marriage is the major contributor to early marriage. He added that in Malaysia, a few steps have been taken by the government in order to reduce the problem. Under Malaysian Law, youngsters who want to get married must be at least 18 years old for male and likewise 16 years old for female and both of them must have permission from the court. Also, for Muslim, Malaysian government will provide them with courses regarding marriage, before and after marriage.

    This is to enhance the relationship between those who had married so that divorcement can be somewhat prevented. When Encik Eizzul was asked this particular question, “which one is more important, practising early marriage in order to hold back the teenagers from committing sin or not practising it due to the consequences it bring? ”, he answered it depends on the youngsters itself. But from his point of view, some Muslim scholars had agreed that it is permissible to the teenagers to masturbate, only after he or she had tried to control himself or herself but still cannot put their sexual desire on hold.

    But still, by doing this, it is far much better than getting married and then put a hole on the family institution, hence leads to social deterioration. Encik Eizzul also expresses his disagreement towards the statement “early marriage restrict the bride’s mobility and cause them to less socialize. ” The term socialize has a big meaning and not only restricted to social life with bachelors only. There are a lot of organizations for married women such as organizations for mothers, organization for wives and many others. So, based on his explanations, the statement is not quite true.

    Finally, Mr Eizzul ‘Ala concluded that early marriage brings more harm than good to youngsters nowadays because of unhealthy consequences that it brings to them. 8. 0 Conclusion In short, the practice of early marriage in our society today does hinder personal development of individuals in terms of health, character building and intellectual qualities. First, a girl is more susceptible to diseases and complications when sex intercourse takes place between the spouses occur at an early age. Early pregnancies followed by childbearing can also bring harm to the girl by increasing the risks of dying and complications during delivery.

    The loss of mobility and social life due to the early marriage will result in lack of self esteem and great emotional stress. In addition, limited education is obvious among those who marry early. The findings, which is the interview and survey that had been conducted has a contradict results with my hypothesis. Most of the respondents as well as the person that I had interviewed disagree with early marriage. This is maybe because of the background of my respondents. Majority of them were Chinese so they may have different way in viewing this matter. Parenting skills may have a great impact to the children in seeing the world.

    There are also some possibilities that the place where my respondents grew up affect the result. The value from urban area might be different with the value from rural area. Nonetheless, the results of my findings are in the same line with results from other research which is scholarly. Therefore, the practice of early marriage is proven to hinder personal development and should be reduced among young adolescents especially in developing countries with high incidence of young marriage.


    • Adhikari, R. K. (2006). Early Marriage and Childbearing: Risks and Consequences. |
    • 62-64, (Online) Available from: www. ho. int/ reproductive-health/ publications/towards_adulthood/7. pdf. (Accessed: 14th January| |2008) | |Faculty Senate Advancement of Teaching (AOT) Committee, (February 2002). Available from: | |http://oregonstate. edu/dept/senate/agen/reports/aot. rep. html
    • (Accessed:12th December 2007) | |Joyce, L. F. , et al. (2001). Future Options Foreclosed: Girls Who Marry Early. |Reproductive Health and Rights. 139-143. (Online) Available from: http://www. path. org/files/RHR-Article-14. pdf. (Accessed 25th | |January 2006)
    • |Judith K. M. , (n. d). Marriage — A Thing of the Past? (Online) Available from http://www | |. islamonline. net/iol-english/dowalia/society-27-12/society1. asp. (Accessed 14th January 2008)
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    • Mathur, S et al (2003). Too Young To Wed, The Lives, Rights, and Health Of Young Married Girls. Available from: http://www. | |icrw. org/docs/tooyoungtowed /1003. pdf
    • (Accessed: 19th October 2007)
    • Orsi, M.P. (October, 2001). A Case for Earlier Marriage. (Online) Available from Ignatius Press: | |http://www. catholicculture. org. docs/. (Accessed 29th January 2008) | |”Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary”, 7th edition, English level: Upper- Intermediate to Advance, 2006, Sally | |Wehmeier,California, USA. (page 481 and 941)
    • Oyortey, N. Pobi, S. , (2003). Early Marriage and Poverty. (Online) Available from | |http://www. eenet. org. uk/key_issues/gender/emarriage_poverty. pdf. (Accessed 27th November 2007)
    • United Nation Children’s Fund. (2001). “The Impact of Early Marriage On | |Children and On Society”. Innocenti Digest 7- Early Marriage Child Spouses.
    • (Online), March 2001. (Online) Available from: http://www. unicef-icdc. rg/publications/pdf/digest7e. pdf. (Accessed 3rd January | |2008) |

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