Leila Tong Speaks Out Against Child Marriages

As an ambassador for Plan International Hong Kong, actress Leila Tong (唐寧) traveled to remote areas of Indonesia to visit child brides-to-be in the countryside. Leila spoke passionately against the practice, which robs the girls of their childhood and education.

Leila, who is one quarter Indonesian, stayed with various families for seven days. With her visit, Leila hopes that more people will support the “Because I Am A Girl” campaign, which aims to support millions of girls to get the education, skills and support they need to improve their lives.

Sexism plays a role in contributing to the mortality rate of young girls in developing countries. Girls are more likely to be denied access to education than boys, and are more likely to be malnourished and live in poverty. Every year, one in three girls get married before they turn 18 in developing countries. Some child brides are as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Leila, a mother of one son and one daughter, is deeply concerned about the traditional sexism that many young girls still face in modern developing societies. “Being a mother is supposed to be a happy occasion, but in many parts of the world, many girls are forced to get married at young ages. They are stripped of their chances to an education, and have to be pregnant and become a mother. Because these girls are not fully mature, their babies are more likely to die after they’re born. This really affects the mother’s ability to bear more children in the future, and gives them irreversible psychological trauma.”

Leila Tong 10

Source: stheadline.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. National Geographic profiled several child brides in Yemen and their horrific experiences. Many of the girls were married to much older men, who subsequently raped the underage brides. The girls’ families usually arrange for the marriages for financial reasons.

    Reading about the practice of child brides made me feel very angry, how girls’ lives are ruined because their families make the marriage decisions.


    1. @jayne In a country where child marriages are rampant but not spoken of, I agree with her stance but for a different reason. Recently incredibly Malaysia has a movie called Suami Aku Ustaz. Just google it. Not only is it stupid, it is incredibly preachy and smack in the face of reason.

      But there are cultures where girls are married young to equally young husband. Fine. But what makes me oil are young girls marrying men decades older (think min 40 years) or even rape victim (mostly young girls) marrying their rapists.

      Sorry to say Malaysia has quite a few example.

      It is not a practice but an abuse on human rights. YEs some are living in poverty so maybe marriage may help, some may be disguising selling daughters for dowry or selling off another mouth to feed with a self pat on the shoulder that at least she has a better life with food to eat, etc etc. What these girls never had from the start was a chance. Parents against them, economy against them, country against them, culture against them. Much abuse stem from the word called culture. But to fix all that must fix the economy. When parents are well enough perhaps such practice may stop unless you’re some Muslim who insists on marrying off your university educated daughter to some farmer back in Pakistan or somewhere. So it relates to personal belief and how much these girls are respected as a human being, which is to some culture, zero.

      Child brides is such a nice name, like Comfort Women but pack a lot of abuse, trouble, heartache, crushed dreams, hopelessness… Let’s not even talk about genital mutilation. Technology may have advanced but some cultures are still worse than dark ages.

      1. @funnlim

        “But there are cultures where girls are married young to equally young husband.”

        Even if the couple’s ages are close together, where the groom may be 17 to 19, the girl’s fate is still decided by her parents in the arranged marriage. She has no right to choose her own life. Although she is a child or young teenager herself, she will become a mother and have to take care of little ones. No chance to really live her own life.

        Poverty may be the main reason for the child brides, but the young girls basically are treated like commodities, that can be traded for the parents’ convenience. Abused and beaten by the husbands if they want.

        The article mentioned the story of two men in their 50s who decided to marry each other’s daughters. One of the girls was only 10 years old. The fathers are nothing more than pedophiles.

        In some poor parts of the world, including China, some young girls are first raped by the men. Then the rapist goes to the family and offers to marry the young girl. The family agrees because they fear that no one will want the girl anymore. Sometimes the young girls were kidnapped by abductors and sold to be child brides to much older men in villages.

    2. @jayne it’s heart breaking hearing all kind of stuff people go through in poor country.

      I would pay one of the family to adopt their girl if that’s possible. I always try to donate money to the poor country especially to orphanages/community. I hope more people can donate

      1. @azndoraemon you can start by involving in your local community project like soup kitchen and helps child, kids and even adolescent. It’s a good start giving back to the society at your own country. If funnlim is at my country I would like to bring her along when are running at soup kitchen, and pay meal forward project. It’s a eye opening experience and part of our effort to educate public on the needs of child

      2. @ajlim kids are well taken care of in my country and they don’t seem to need much help. Instead our residents reach out to the poor countryside to contribute. I tried to fly out to help them when i can but i try to give money to my friends or family to help me donate when they do fly to those countries.

        what country are you from?

      3. @azndoraemon, I am from malaysia. Before with kids I always out in the field helping those on the street now I have kids it’s difficult but I stay at centre weekends to help those in need and spreading humanity cause. Until they are old enough to join me on the field again. With all these activities kids will learn to be a responsible and a person with a heart.

      4. @ajlim Very nice of you! I bet your kids will have a very kind heart to help out the society.

        My goal is to bring my kids to the poor countries for a visit to see how sad the world can be.

        How many kids do you have? Do you work and what part of Malaysia? I want to visit Malaysia if there are any orphanages?

      5. @azndoraemon dear I have a pair girl and boy . Aidan and Aj and their are Lim family name. I am a banker by profession. Pretty hectic working life. I usually do social work weekend and soup kitchen is at night 2 times a week. I no longer involved at field work Aidan is just 6 and AJ is 5. If I bring 5 year around I need to take care of him. I start at home first exposing them slowly towards surrounding

      6. @azndoraemon. Try to do it via UNICEFT and donations will go to child who needs it regardless of which contry. There are always some little things everyone can do in their own ways. To lift this violation of children’s right is via social elevation and education. by the way of
        Education not only restricted to classroom school but subconsciously in every individual and young minds .

      7. @ajlim I’m aware there are online donations available. I enjoy delivering the contribution in person like the homeless people on the street or elderly people in small villages where they might not pay attention to. Plus I don’t work and not sure if I will go back to work therefore I don’t have a whole lot $ to give out.

        btw I saw your reply to my comment on another article about your daughter Aidan. Aiden or Aidan are great names. My husband wants Ava for a daughter. I’m not sure what I will be having and not sure if I want to find out the gender. Thanks for your wishes on having a child soon but the news is I’m due this year =)

      8. @azndoraemon. Yes I do understand you. To see with your naked eyes are a very powerful eye opener experience. I cannot explain to you what I saw when I saw a 5 years old victim of a paedophile of his own dad even he’s anus was badly torn and yet keep running back to his dad because that’s the only love that he knows. My heart was knotted and twisted so many fold. I am screaming inside but helpless . To put him into he system, dare not because no one can guarantee that the system will suited him best. Orphanage is not the best place depends on your care taker. To be involved in social activities you first need to be able let your anger subside and focus on things that needs to be done rather than hitting out on the injustice of the world

    3. @jayne Just read the linked article. Familiar stories and sick. You know some justification? I marry them young but I won’t touch her until she has her period, signifying when she becomes a woman. And frankly the idea of a 50 year old and a 13 year old is sick enough already. The self justification is appalling. But you the examples in the article, the parents are very very very poor. So girls are traded off for debt (money or otherwise), in the belief of better life, didn’t know any better due to vicious cycle of tradition, culture, father did it, father’s father did it, etc etc etc. Like I said these girls had no chance, at all. Blame the parents, blame the societal ill, blame the grooms who all are of better positions but are blatantly abusing the poor.

      What not many will openly say it it is openly paedophile activities. Child bride is too nice a word. These are all peadophiles and the parents don’t even know it, don’t even realise the real impact of it.

      Yeah I read before these young girls giving birth basically died from it due to the fact they are so young, pelvic bones too narrow, etc etc.

      Jayne I don’t know. My blood boils everytime I read something like this, something so perverse disguise as so watered down version. They’re all peadophiles. That’s that. Not more can be done unless mindset are changed. Mindset can’t change if they continue to live in poverty or the law is not there to punish the perpetrators and since most justification is based on religious rights, these cultures are doomed because they don’t want to be helped, they think they’re doing just fine. There are poverty stricken fathers who refuse to marry off their young daughters, but the consequences are terrible for the family. Vicious circle, vicious cycle. And then we have stupid movies like Suami Aku Ustaz that packaged it all in a nice movie about romance. Doomed.

      1. @funnlim. I am no fan of child marriage neither on paedophiles. There are lots of issue involved as you have indicated at your comment. Which are very true. Perhaps we need to look at different angle when it comes to “Suami Aku Ustaz”. Maybe we need to treating as a movie a part of entertainment. This movie have no difference than movies about genocide, assassins, mercy killing and sort which is equally abhorant. I invite you to visit https://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection?source=mobile_mirror_nux#!/marina.mahathir?fref=ts
        She is a muslim and a woman champion and there also Muslim men who are very active promoting woman’s and children’s right in Malaysia. We cannot stop any movie producer towards kinds of movie they make. But its up to individual to decide.

    4. @jayne There’s a difference between realpolitik and idealism, Such issues seem the fourth world :Indian dilemma. None would really understand to pursue such matters until one read up three world and the fourth world.

  2. By the way I’ve watch “Suami aku Uztaz” rather than being angry at the movie i choose to spread awareness on child bride every opportunity we have. I use this movie as a beautiful introduction of this taboo subject and subtly inject about ills, and consequences of such culture. Don’t you agree?

    1. @ajlim I take a different approach. Because the movie package it as a romance, it is skewered. So instead of an introduction to what is not a taboo in their society, I’d rather go all out and say what a nonsensical rubbish that movie is going on. Because it is not just forced marriage, even if technically she is legal age to marry. He was her teacher and more importantly her virtue is saved by marrying him and preserved by him alone. Consequences? there isn’t one. We see things that way but for those already in this culture, they see it as a validation. Yes it is a movie and part of entertainment but since the subject is at its very core abhorrent, it is like watching a movie about rape and forced marriage and skewered sense of virtue and to say it is an entertainment shows why society is doomed. Genocide, hardly anyone is entertained. Assassins is a profession, mercy killing at its core isn’t abhorrent, it is mercy. That movie tries to package the situation as merciful and we are living in modern society and many do think the way the movie depicts and they see nothing abhorrent. Marina Mahathir is a modern muslim woman, outspoken. Yes we can’t stop any movie producer from making such movies, we do have a censorship board who censors script. Clearly some people in that board sees nothing wrong and yet we have the same sort of nonsensical; people going after a poor muslim girl for selling a so called banned book in a bookstore when she hardly had any say to sell or not to sell.

      Skewered. So not I disagree. It is for individual to decide but the majority of those individuals sees nothing wrong and that is what scares the hell out of me. But then since it is about a certain group of society that doesn’t concern me, I can either adopt what one minister who says “It doesn’t concern you, why you bother?” or what I adopt which is “Human rights no knows colour or gender or religion, it may not affect me but I care because it affect my fellow friends”.

      1. @funnlim By the way there are many Marina Mahathirs out there but there are many more non Marina Mahathirs. In fact much much more.

      2. @funnlim. I am happy that someone is so ardent and supportive of such subject. However, there is a difference between having passion and angry at the whole situation. What we need is to expose and educate our future generation rather than let them fantasize about this culture we take one step at a time. A culture that has been there so many decades cannot be undone via anger no matter how much we dislike or disagree. No, i would not say its not your problem its everyone’s problem. Anyway, i will stop replying to this thread. This is not the right medium to do it. Anyway, thanks for your input and to those who have read this thread. Please join us to fight again child marriage and violence against woman and children in our way. It makes a difference.

      3. @ajlim indeed but there cant be any change if there is no anger. Anger does not equate violence but no anger shows indifference. Every injustice starts with anger and every change requires a desire to change. You r talking about a culture or cultures that does not wish to change and I live in a moderate society. It starts with condemnation but even that is facing difficulties. Education is pc talk. Our system is not equipped for that and the current generation cant yet change the next. Which is why statutory rape exists but no serious carrying through with penalty. I wish education is enough but it isn’t. It should start with a group voice loud enough to condemn and then when people are listening there can be educate and change. And it starts with not having stupid misleading movies like that stupid movie. And I am angry. It sickens me as much as it sickens anyone who read the article posted by Jayne. That is a good start and this is a good forum because a lot of young readers here who can make that change.

  3. She’s still so cute looking. It’s for a good cause, good for her!

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