Response to child marriage letter

We must find the root cause of child marriage in order to solve the problem.

Ross Wolf

First, I want to thank you, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, for your concern of the well-being of girls around the world who are prematurely married and having children. It is refreshing to see people taking action for a cause they believe strongly about; this doesnâÄôt occur enough today. However, what the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009 tells me is we are looking at the problem without knowing what is causing it. Yes, the parents are trading their daughters for compensation. Why? Thousands of families on our planet âÄî not only in developing nations seen on the news âÄî cannot afford to feed every mouth under their roof. In the culture and society these families live in, it is therefore an economic necessity to marry off these daughters. Do I think it is a good thing? No, and I do not believe the parents would think so either. We must familiarize ourselves with the cultures of other nations. As McCollum states, âÄúLong-term priorities vary for the average young girl today, but most usually include finishing school, going to college and securing a job.âÄù This âÄúaverage young girlâÄù sounds awfully American. We must evaluate each situation: Is there even a school nearby? A college? How do we expect these families to afford sending their children thousands of miles away to an institution that costs a small fortune to attend when they cannot even afford to feed them? And we wonder why children die every day from starvation. Who says that some lives arenâÄôt being saved by this process? We must look at the deeper problem and evaluate the consequences of imposing AmericaâÄôs national priorities onto a very different culture. History tells us this is a bad idea. Ross Wolf University undergraduate student