In this short article I would like to direct your attention to the issue of early marriage in Georgia. There is a grave situation in the country. There are different stories about early marriages; most of them come from the rural parts of the country. Why so? We could name a number of reasons, such as lack of education, social and economical development, etc.

The age of consent in Georgia is 16, and even then, written permission from a parent or a guardian is required to get married before the age of 18. Naturally, sexual intercourse with a minor is a criminal offense. The constitution also states that the secondary-school education is compulsory. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization – WHO, claims that Georgia, as well as neighboring Turkey, has a very high level of early marriage compared with other regional states.

It is prevalent that the girls between the age of eight and fifteen are married to the older men by force of their families. This could happen because the victims are deluded by false beliefs, traditions, etc. The families expect the financial benefits from the marriage as well. In one of the regions of Georgia, it is typical for the parents to exchange their daughter for a certain amount of money, or even livestock. To be more specific, a father exchanged her daughter for 10 cows with a 45-year-old man in spite of the fact that the girl did not want to get married to a man that was selected for her. Instead, she eloped with another one. The early marriage largely occurs in the underprivileged families. There is a girl claiming that her friend was forcefully married just because the family was too impoverished to feed the children.

It is indisputable that the social and emotional outcome of an early marriage is mostly devastating and could be due to the withdrawal of adolescents from the schools. This is something that limits the opportunities for them to develop as individuals. A girl that is expecting has more responsibilities, which means less time for concentrating on self-improvement. Considering that they are unlikely to go back to school and get a diploma, they won’t be qualified for most jobs. This is a whole other issue that causes unemployment, domestic violence, etc.

The youngsters as well as the adults are uneducated about the risks of an early marriage. The adults are being negligent of the parental duties imposed on them and the younger ones are uninformed about who to contact when their rights are being violated.

It is advisable to start a large-scale educational campaign, invest in the youth to enable them to study, work, build career. I strongly believe the best investment is youth, since they are the ones creating the future, our future.

     Giorgi Shakarashvili is a healthcare management student from Georgia. As a member of the Georgian Youth Education and Development Association and the head of youth reproductive health centre at the University of Georgia, he is working on educational and health issues of the youth, informing and educating them about HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equality. As well as contributing to the improvement of maternal health. He is an elite international member of the community of students commited to using the power of advanced technology to change the world.