Nigel Barker: Less than Royal Weddings

The British actor and model Nigel Barker discusses weddings less picture perfect than William and Kate’s nuptials today:

This week, the world’s attention will turn to a historic royal wedding. Millions of people will be talking about the dress, the guests the fashions and the parties. It’s an exciting event that everyone, including us, wants to celebrate. Yet somewhere around the world, a very different kind of wedding will be taking place: A girl under the age of 15 will be married against her will. Far from pomp and circumstance, her wedding will be one that will halt her chances for an education, increase her chances of dying during childbirth, and put her in one of the highest risk categories for HIV/AIDS.

“Wedding” — it’s a powerful word. For many it calls up beautiful images: flowers, kisses, smiling friends, supportive families, tears of joy. No matter what your image of the “perfect” wedding looks like, there’s one thing we’re sure it does not include: a child bride.

Tragically, millions of brides around the world are young girls who are forced into marriage. One in seven girls in developing countries (excluding China) is married before her fifteenth birthday (with some girls married as early as 5 years old). Robbed of their childhood, child brides are subjected to increased health risks and the likelihood of poverty.

That’s from an essay in the Huffington Post for the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign. Read the rest!