9:30pm – Wednesday, May 30 on ABC2
Nel Hedayat is a young British-Afghani woman who sets out to discover what life is really like for some of the thousands of child brides across the world.
She has a particular interest as her grandmother was married at 12 and her aunt at 15 and both had long and largely happy marriages.
Nel travels to India and Bangladesh, countries with two of the highest rates of child marriage in the world and what she sees challenges everything she thought.
She attends the wedding of two sisters aged about 11 and six in Rajasthan and witnesses the surreal ceremony involving two young grooms, one of whom can scarcely stay awake.
She meets a 14-year-old girl married last year to a 19-year-old man and now four months pregnant. She also talks to women who were married as children and who regret missing out on their childhood and their education. She learns about the frightening possibilities of life-threatening pregnancies and labours in young girls whose bodies are not fully developed and who end up with medical conditions that leave them social outcasts.
But she also learns that not all aspects of the procedure of giving away children in early marriage are as cruel as they sound.
Some make the best of the situation and hearteningly, increased numbers of schools in rural areas have given girls confidence they can resist family pressure and opt for education and careers instead.