Asma chose to be married at the age of 15, but her mother did not allow her. According to her, she decided to marry her current husband because of love.
“Early marriage is legal to us Muslims. However, I realized that it is difficult to marry and become a mother at an early age, especially if my husband and I have no stable income. There were days that we had no food. We fight because of financial problems,” mentioned Asma.
In her community at Muti, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, some girls are married off early. Other girls marry because of personal choice, while some are forced to marry due to poverty. Parents have a lesser burden once their children are married off.
Moreover, some children chose to marry early to get out of the house due to abusive family members.
According to Asma, she wished she did not marry early. “The other girls and I cannot pursue our dreams and be successful. We almost rely on our husbands or parents for survival.”
Because of her experiences, she wanted to share the consequences of early marriage with other children and teenagers. Together with the Creating Spaces Project of United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women) and Oxfam, they conducted household visits to raise awareness on Child, Early, and Forced Marriage (CEFM).
“I always tell them not to get married at an early age like what I did because you won’t go anywhere. You won’t fulfill your dreams.”
Creating Spaces also provided young mothers a livelihood. “They gave sewing machines to our organization. It generated income from sewing face masks now with the pandemic. It helped our families.”, mentioned Asma.
Aside from raising awareness on the negative impacts of a child, early and forced marriage, the Creating Spaces Project also provided livelihood to young mothers. “They gave sewing machines to our organization. It generated income from sewing face masks now with the pandemic. It provided food for our families,” mentioned Asma.
However, mask and clothes production cannot sustain the family due to decreasing sales. Asma decided to continue her studies at Mindanao State University-Maguindanao, taking up agricultural education. She dreams of supporting her family and reaching far-flung communities to teach children who do not have access to education.
“I want children to understand the consequences of early marriage. I won’t allow my daughter to be married early because I want her to graduate college and have a decent life. Life is difficult to those who marry early,” Asma emphasized.
The Creating Spaces Project is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Oxfam Pilipinas, United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), Al-Mujadilah Women’s Association (AMWA) and other partner organizations.