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Child marriage has widespread and long term consequences for child brides and grooms.Child marriage is related to child betrothal, and it includes civil cohabitation and court approved early marriages after teenage pregnancy.
This requires parents to bestow property on the marriage of a daughter, which is often an economic challenge for many families.Bride's families would seek out any available bachelors and marry them to their daughters, before events beyond their control moved the boy away.Persecution and displacement of Roma and Jewish people in Europe, colonial campaigns to get slaves from various ethnic groups in West Africa across the Atlantic for plantations, Islamic campaigns to get Hindu slaves from India across Afghanistan's Hindu Kush as property and for work, were some of the historical events that increased the practice of child marriage before the 19th century.Poor parents may have few alternatives they can afford for the girls in the family; they often view marriage as a means to ensure their daughter's financial security and to reduce the economic burden of a growing adult on the family.An additional factor causing child marriage is the parental belief that early marriage offers protection.Child marriages of girls is a way out of desperate economic conditions, or simply a source of income to the parents.
Social upheavals such as wars, major military campaigns, forced religious conversion, taking natives as prisoners of war and converting them into slaves, arrest and forced migrations of people often made a suitable groom a rare commodity.
Child marriages were common throughout history for a variety of reasons including poverty, insecurity, as well as for political and financial reasons.
Today, child marriage is still fairly widespread, particularly in developing countries, such as parts of Africa, The incidence of child marriage has been falling in most parts of the world.
The difficulty to save and preserve wealth for dowry was common, particularly in times of economic hardship, or persecution, or unpredictable seizure of property and savings.
These difficulties pressed families to betroth their girls, irrespective of her age, as soon as they had the resources to pay the dowry.
Ruth Lamdan writes: “The numerous references to child marriage in the 16th- century Responsa literature and other sources, shows that child marriage was so common, it was virtually the norm.