BBC Three
« Previous | Main | Next »

The Truth About Child Brides

Post categories:

Nelufar Hedayat Nelufar Hedayat | 13:10 UK time, Friday, 30 September 2011

I'm no stranger to child marriages. My auntie got married at 15. My granny was married at 12 - and went on to have eight kids. But that was back in Afghanistan, where my family come from. I've grown up in England since the age of six and I have different ideas about when you should get married. I'm 23 and I'm not planning the big day just yet!

And although child marriage is illegal in many countries, it happens all over the world. One in seven girls gets married before the age of 15 in the developing world. Can it really be so bad for all of them, or is it just our Western perspective that makes it seem so shocking? That's what I wanted to find out.

Mamta, a victim of domestic violence when she was a child bride, being interviewed by Nelufar Hedayat in India.

I set off for two countries with some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world - India and Bangladesh. It was a gruelling trip through some of the poorest parts of south Asia - from the slums of Dhaka to remote villages in the deserts of Rajasthan. I found stories of despair, hope, and defiance. And the people I met completely changed my views about child marriage in a way I wasn't expecting.

Watch The Truth About Child Brides on Monday at 9pm.

- UNICEF: Child Protection - Child Marriage
- Child Marriage and Forced Marriage
- Girls Not Brides Press Conference
- Women, Weddings, War and Me


  • Comment number 1.

    Bit depressed but hats off to bringing such a well done heart wrenching program.

  • Comment number 2.

    it was sure from the first lady that she was herself beat up, look at her scars and demaenor. the girl presenting is terrible, smilling, laughing and she cant speak the language.

  • Comment number 3.

    "I witnessed the wedding of two sisters who were around six and 11 years old.

    As older female relatives fussed over them - dressing them in sparkly red-and-gold outfits and applying full bridal make-up - the brides, like obedient children, quietly went along with it all.

    Child marriages are illegal in India, and are punishable with a fine of Rs100,000 (£1,300) and two years in prison for anyone who performs, conducts or negligently fails to prevent a child marriage. But this didn't seem to bother any of the guests who danced merrily or the priest who solemnly chanted the wedding rites."

    It didn't seem to bother the reporter or the BBC that they were committing a CRIME also,since they WITNESSED the ILLEGAL ACTS of the child marriages taking place and did NOTHING to prevent the marriages from happening...never mind, long as they got their story eh?

  • Comment number 4.

    If I draw a analogy between East and West; specifically UK, UK has the highest Teenage pregnancy in Europe and it is not uncommon for parents & society to accept 'Teen dating' which would be discouraged by both parents & society in a country like India.Both sides are equally at fault, the only difference is noone travels to UK or Europe from India to make a documentary on Teendating and Teenage pregnancy! Child marriage is a criminal offence, but West cannot abdicate itself of its mistakes too!

  • Comment number 5.

    I found the presenter completely inappropriate. She aske one child bride 'why do you think he beat you?' What a question to ask someone who has escaped an abusive relationship, as if there is a reason. Then went on to ask middle class, educated women with money about child brides, is it not obvious that it is a means for some people to escape complete poverty. I am not saying I agree in anyway because I certainly do not but it's like sitting in your black cab and sniffing to yourself' gosh why are those people sleeping on the streets'. I think she completely missed the point and then towards the end of the programme basically accused the brother of a child bride of the murder of his sister who died in child birth-when clearly he married her because he thought it was in her best interest. The sensitive subject matter was dealt with so insensitively.

  • Comment number 6.

    I thought that the subject matter of this program was interesting and worthy of a serious documentary. This program did deliver compelling stories about truly sad cases of girls and boys being forced into early marriages. So well done to the BBC on that point. However, I do think that the presenter was far too naive and simplistic in her treatment of this subject. It would have been more appropriate for her to be presenting Blue Peter or a pop show owing to her perky style and bland questions. When she tells a grieving brother that his dead sister "was pretty", I really knew she was missing the point. Like what does that have to do with the problem of child marriage and were these words meant to help him? In a documentary that is supposed to be about the suppression of young women, we get a comment about the way a girl looks from the presenter!!!! Get real BBC. What are you trying to tell us?

  • Comment number 7.

    There seem to be a lot of complaints about the presenter of the programme - why? They girl may have been young and naive but that was why she wanted to find out more. She asked real questions that real young people who have no idea what that experience is like would have asked, she showed that young people can do a good job and should be interested in the world beyond their own experience.
    I work with teenagers and want to show them this programme not only because it is an important issue that they should be aware of, but also to say they have the power to do something about it.
    Well done BBC for giving her the opportunity - I hope to see more programmes like this in the future.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have just watched Nelufar Hedayat on BBCThree presenting a documentary about Riots and Revolutions: My Arab Journey, and I am absolutely astonished at the confidence and courage of this girl, whose youthful looks belie a maturity and intelligence that some of the comments on this forum do not give her credit for. I find her honest, intelligent, confident and courageous. She thought nothing of talking with these 'macho' men with courage and intelligence and a total lack of self-conscienciousness, and although these men could easily have treated her with patronising contempt as she is female and looks so young, they did not and showed a great deal of respect for her.

    I hope very much that we see Nulefurin more of these programmes.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.