To dream the impossible dream
Over half of the girls in Amhara are married before they are 15.
The vast majority of them will have sex before they have even reached puberty and many will get pregnant as soon as it is physically possible.
The problem is their bodies are not fully formed making it highly unlikely they will have a trouble-free labour.
Hardly any of these girls will have access to a trained health worker and will have the baby at home.
Another girl, Achawache, told me she was 15 when she spent twelve days in labour.
Eventually the baby was born dead and she was left with a fistula.
Or even in the U.S. (Major icky photos warning!):
In what may be the creepiest court exhibits ever, Texas officials have released photos of imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs in intimate clinches with two underage girls. The photos, which you'll find on the following pages, were introduced Friday at a child custody hearing stemming from last month's raid at a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compund. Jeffs, the former FLDS leader, was convicted last year of rape as an accomplice for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry--and have sex against her will with--her 19-year-old cousin. As seen below, Jeffs is pictured with a girl named Loretta in three photos, which were snapped in January 2005 and recorded the couple's "First Anniversary." Six other images show Jeffs, now 52, in July 2006 photos with a girl named Merrianne, who was 12 at the time. In the photos, Jeffs is passionately kissing both girls. The so-called prophet lived in a home on the YFZ Ranch, from which hundreds of children were removed last month by Child Protective Services investigators.
Just imagine the difference letting girls mature and learn would make to the planet. For one thing, there would be a lot less misery. For another, there would be much less pressure on scarce resources.
Instead of having two, three, four or more babies before they're 20, babies that often die for lack of food, health care or clean water, these women could be starting businesses, going into professions or trades, farming, teaching, doing so much to help make the world a better, less disease-ridden place.
That's my fantasy anyway.
Since the start of the year, the young women of Antigone Magazine, which comes out of the University of British Columbia, have been raising funds by inviting readers to submit postcards with their dreams for women. These mini works of art have been regularly posted on the Antigone blog. You can find the last 12 weeks worth here.
Here's a video montage of some of the earliest entries.
Oh yeah, I have another dream. That more young women think like these do, and spend a lot less time fantasizing about Prince Charming, big weddings, having perfect bodies and designer clothes.