The consequences of early marriage on young girls are well known, but millions of underage boys are also married off each year—and there is little research on their fates.
Pannilal Yadev can’t remember much about his wedding other than the carriage he was carried in to meet his bride, 7-year-old Rajkumari. At the time he was a year older than she, and the two barely interacted for the next six years. By the time they moved in together he was 14, she was 13. She had already halted her education after their marriage, and when she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Yadev dropped out of 10th grade.
“Recently I spoke to a school friend who told me he was going to engineering college. The news left me feeling ashamed and pitiful. If our parents had not forced us to marry at such a young age, our lives would be so different,” he wrote in a letter that was provided to The Daily Beast. “I would have liked to have gone to engineering school. If we were allowed to finish our educations, Rajkumari and I would have learned about family planning. Maybe I would have gone to college. Forcing children to marry doesn’t just push them deeper into poverty and threaten their health. It crushes their ambitions—whether they are girls or boys.”
Now 25, Yadev works for a new campaign called Tipping Point, which is collaborating with CARE USA to fight child marriage in Nepal. He and his wife have four children.
More: The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms