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October 8, 2011


desmond tutu takes on child marriage

by Andrea O'Connell

Yesterday (October 6th) was Desmond Tutu’s birthday.  He just turned 80.  With his birthday comes a new resolve – to begin the hard work on a very serious and heartbreaking issue.  Child Marriage.

Desmond Tutu.  I love this man.   I applaud everything he stands for, what he says, thinks and writes.  I had the good fortune to see him in person, and what a delight that was.  I wrote a blog post about seeing him in person in February, 2010.   Here’s a link to that February 2010 post:   blessings, warnings, and love from Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The work they do on the global stage, is inspiring.  And, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the global community.  The Internet has made our world flat, as Thomas Friedman observes in his interesting book, “The World is Flat.  (A good read!)

When I visited the Elders site yesterday, I learned that one of the more recent trips Tutu took was to Ethiopia where he learned how vast the problem of Child Marriage really is.

Desmond Tutu recently wrote:

I have to confess that I was simply not aware of the scale and impact of child marriage. 10 million girls a year, 25,000 girls a day, are married without any say in the matter, to men who are often older than they are. These girls almost always drop out of school to attend to household chores, and when they become young mothers themselves face serious dangers of injury and even death in pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage robs girls of their childhood, of their basic rights to education, security and health.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of the human rights landscape on this precious earth we share. What I have realised is that these girls are invisible and voiceless, making them some of the most vulnerable, disempowered people on our planet.  (Desmond Tutu, 9/20/2011)

I will be following this issue, and will write more in coming days.  For now?  Well.  I must jump into the weekend, (though it is and will continue to be, an incredibly rainy and windy weekend, it’s not gonna wash out my fun!

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 8 2011

    It has been 25 celcius since Wed. and continuing till Tuesday. Very sunny and warmer than it should be. We are having a glorious Fall this year. Sorry to hear of your rainy weather. This is our Thanksgiving weekend, so as we wind our way to the country tomorrow, we will enjoy the changing colours and take in the balmy breeze, for it will be Winter in but a couple of months. ugh.
    Thanks for your article. I will definately go there to read up on our world, told by the heroes of our time. I was shocked to read those stats on young women. It’s criminal and cruel. How can we live in a world that has such archaeic traditions? Where are the people willing to stand up to such crimes? We need a Sufroget Movement that includes men!

    • Nov 21 2011

      Hey Weezie… I just now saw your post! Sheesh, I’m so sorry! Well, our Thanksgiving is this week! I hope you’re still enjoying your cool temps, or is it really cold now? I’m heading up to Orlando this week to spend time with my brother. I am thinking about visiting the Courthouse there, too. I think it would be interesting to see!

      I feel as you do about this horrible practice of children as brides.. I hope the Elders will be able, with Desmond Tutu’s help, to do something about this, and quickly too.

  2. Faith(Tommy's Mom)
    Nov 21 2011

    Did you know most Muslim countries practice child marriage,some girls only infants? They believe it’s okay becuse Muhammad took a child as a wife. This is also becoming a problem in other countries also.
    Child marriage is bing practiced in this country,but kept under wraps. It should be outlawed all over the world,but never will be. It’s been practiced for thousands of years. What a sad state of affairs.
    Have a very,very happy Thanksgiving!

    • Nov 21 2011

      Hi Faith,
      Are you thinking of children who are “promised” at a very young age? They do have arranged marriages. A couple of years ago, we had a work-study student from the middle east. She had been promised since she was a child to a young man she’d known all her life. The sad thing was she ended up really disliking him and really did not want to marry him.

      But, she did. She was very religious and understood her duty and the tradition, but she also was very modern, smart, and hip – so basically she was torn up about it, but she knew there was no way out because she loved her family too much to disappoint them.

      I knew her quite well. Met her family – all of the Muslim faith, and they were lovely people. All of the Muslims I have known have been very nice people, the women are soft spoken until you get to know them.

      Their religion is a way of life; their culture and core values are so different from ours, of course. It’s difficult for some Americans to accept another culture’s beliefs if they deviate too much from ours. But, the beauty of life is to accept these differences, without comparing one to the other, as an opportunity to learn.

      I know that you are very accepting, Faith – I’m referring to Americans, in general, who will slander another faith out of hate and ignorance.

      • Faith(Tommy's Mom)
        Nov 22 2011

        Hi Andrea

        I’m not speaking of arranged marriages I’m talking about men taking babies and any woman they wish as a wife.

        I knew a lady from Ireland who was betrothed at birth and came to this country to be free of that. I’ve never said nor do I believe that Muslims are not lovely people but just like us and all other religions and countries they have there ways and we have ours. In another post I suggested that one could better understand Muslims by reading the writings of Muhammad and the Quran which,according to law Muslims must accept. Just like christians must accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. We all know that’s not the way it is,most christians have there own ideas about what’s written in the Book and what they want to believe and so it is with all religions of the world. Must haven’t studied the Book or the Quran or whatever is used as their guide and that’s where ignorance comes in. Knowledge is the key to the understanding of anything whether a religion or a recipe.

        I hope your Thanksgiving is one happy day.

    • Nov 22 2011

      Thanks Faith – you make perfect sense – thank you for your articulate explanation, my dear. Happy Turkey Day to you, too. I’m off to Orlando with my mom! I may try to visit the courthouse – I’d very much like to see it…

  3. Dec 3 2011

    I too admire Desmond Tutu greatly. His humanity and goodness shine through, and he combines seriousness and hard work with an infectious smile and laugh.
    I am glad someone of his stature on the world stage has spoken out about this matter, maybe the cogs will start to turn to bring it to an end.

    • Dec 3 2011

      Hi IsobelandCat! I hope that the good work he does, along with the Elders, will create change.

      I saw Tutu live last year…. he made me cry with happiness mixed with hope… love him

  4. jakesprinter
    Dec 17 2011

    Great Tutu story Andrea thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Dec 30 2011

    Desmond Tutu is a great man. Thanks for the inspiration.


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