Girl = bride
‘Bride’ is written into my story now. I suppose it’s popped up often along the road. But not in the way it has for some of the girls from my home country, Malawi. For girls like Elita (whose photo is above) it can be etched into their identity from birth.
Girl equals bride. Girl equals homemaker. It’s the story they've always been told. But it doesn’t end there. Sometimes bride equals death from abuse or childbirth – which is the leading cause of death in girls under 19 globally.
For me, ‘bride’ meant planning a wedding day that reflects everything we are as a couple. From designing invitations, to picking our closest friends to be in our bridal party and choosing the cake flavour (it had to be chocolate).
For the girls who only find out about their wedding day just before it happens, all the planning is skipped. They can only dread and fear what’s about to happen to them.
The beginning of a new adventure?
In Malawi, almost half of girls marry before the age of 18 and one in 10 before they’ve turned 15. This is one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The harrowing truth is, even when they do survive, girls are left with physical damage to their underdeveloped bodies and face a future without education or freedom.
On my wedding day last month, I thought about how organically our friendship had grown into a relationship since meeting at university four years ago. After the reception was over, I was filled with excited anticipation of a future filled with boundless adventures for my groom and me. It was wonderful to marry my closest friend, surrounded by our loved ones who had seen our journey from the beginning.