13 girls under 18 were married in the last 30 seconds.
38 thousand will be married today.
14 million will be married this year.
These are just some of the statistics I heard during the screening of “Girl Rising” yesterday. The screening is part of the Houston Library’s World Café forum aimed at highlighting global issues and raise awareness of their impact in our community.
Girl Rising is a powerful film everyone should watch. The film tells the stories of 9 girls from different part of the world that faces challenges and overcome heart breaking injustices. After you watch the film you become aware about issues like child arranged marriages, child slavery, and other unspeakable acts these girls survive. All of their stories were touching, beautifully presented and narrated by renowned actresses like Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek and Anne Hathaway. Each story is beautifully written by renowned writers from each girl’s country. They are all powerful but the writing in the last story of the film was particularly memorable to me.
It is the story of Amina a 9 year old Afghan girl who is forced to marry a man who is much older than her. More than 50% of Afghan girls are married or engaged by 10. Women activists say up to 80 percent of marriages in poor rural areas are either forced or arranged. Like Amina, most girls marry far older men — some in their 60s — whom they meet for the first time at their wedding. Amina is one of the lucky girls in Afghanistan who survived child birth. More women die giving birth in Afghanistan than any other place in the world. Amina is just one of the many girls who want change.
There are so many girls in the world who are not wanted and are treated poorly. The violence girl’s face around the world is unthinkable. One of the girls in this film is sold and the money was used to buy her brother a pickup truck. The goal of this film is not only to create awareness but a call to action. It is important we invest on girls. Girls can break the cycles of poverty by being educated. Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children. Girls are the future and we have to stop treating them less than boys.
The last half of the story I believe summarizes the struggle of all the 9 girls in the film. They simply want to prevail. They want more. They want change. If you have a chance, please watch the film and show it to the girls and boys in your life. You can watch a short version of the stories here. I think the film gives a great opportunity to discuss with our children their own privileges and the limitations other children around the world face. I look forward to the day I’m able to speak to Gael about these kinds of issues and make him aware of what happens in other parts of the word.
The following it is beautifully written. It is powerful and hopeful.
(Amina after giving birth to her son)
As I suckled his innocence on my breast, cupped his tiny feet in my hands
I vowed that night not only to find a way to endure but to prevail.
Because we are silenced.
Disenfranchised. Beaten. Cut. Married as children. Sold. Raped
When we seek freedom we are burned
When we speak the truth we are stoned
When we go to school we are bombed, poisoned, shot Don’t tell me it simply has been so
I can’t believe in your resignation
I refused ignorance long ago Don’t tell me you are on my side
Your silence has already spoken for you Do not tell me blame lies within my religion. In my culture. In my tradition. I have not forgotten my vow
Change is coming I will read. I will learn. I will study. I will return to school
I dare you to tell me it is a waste of time
If you try to stop me I will just try harder
Put me in a pit, I will climb out
If you kill me there will be other girls who will rise up and take my place.
I will find a way to endure. To prevail
The future of men lies in me
And this is the future I see
I am the beginning of a different story in Afghanistan
Do you see it now? Look into my eyes. I AM CHANGE