19/04/2014

Kendall Jenner's Coachella Nose Ring: A Look at Child Marriages in India

Recently, a certain Kardashian's fashion choice at Coachella has left people feeling all sorts - offended, irritated and flustered. I'm talking about Kendall Jenner's Indian wedding-inspired nose ring. While die-hard fans of the Kardashians might say I am just bitter and jealous of her fame, or that teenagers should be able to wear whatever the hell they want, the truth is: your fashion choice has more ramification than you think. That, is especially true, if you are a public figure who is constantly being photographed and renown throughout the world.


However, while critics are panning her fashion choice, none of the articles I have encountered seemed to addressed why was the nose-ring that started it all offensive in any way? It all seemed like a media circus for the news outlet to gain hits and clicks, while not addressing the core issue.

Weddings are a cause for celebration and for a Westerner in a developed country to sport an Indian wedding accessory should not be a cause for all the rah-rahs going around. But sadly, it is, because:

  • Every year, 13.5 million young girls around the world marry before their 18th birthday.
  • 40% of those 13.5 million young girls come from India.
  • Girls living in poor households are twice as likely to marry before 18 than girls in higher income households.
  • Once married, girls experience intense pressure to bear children as soon as possible which can have devastating consequences on their health.
  • Girls below 15 are also 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.
  • Globally, perinatal deaths are 50 per cent higher among babies born to mothers under the age of 20 than among those born to mothers aged 20–29 years.
(Source: The Independent)

Child marriage is a result of poverty and the biggest obstacle in women obtaining education and gainful employment. These young girls are torn from their family to marry a stranger twice, thrice (or more) their age, being a slave to their mother-in-law. When the time comes, they become a child-bearing machine and their lives are stuck in a routine of child-birth and caring. I hold out some hopes for these child brides to somehow, by fate, find a man who is sympathetic enough to treat his child bride kindly. Yet, it seems that abuse and rape are rampant. Without education, these girls, their daughters and granddaughters are forever stuck in the loop that results from child marriage. It is a terrible, unthinkable fate.

So, for a celebrity from the free world who has the freedom to prance and jump around in a music festival to sport an item that is the symbol of many unhappy and illegal marriages, is a huge blow to those who are trying to stop the child bride culture. More than that, it is like a big slap to these child bride whose whole world consist of their village, their husband and their children.

Kendall is a beautiful young woman and that photo was beautifully shot. But I just wished she would, with the power that comes with her fame and youth, take this opportunity to do something for the child bride. Not much, even a tweet to her young followers to raise awareness is something to note.

For more information on empowering and educating women, see UNICEF women.

"Let us pick up our books and pens, they are our most powerful weapons."
-Malala Yousafzai 



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