This is Thea, a 12-year-old girl from Norway.
If Thea was like most kids in her country, she’d spend her days at school, she’d play with friends her own age and she’d live at home with her parents.
But Thea is not like other kids in Norway.
Because this weekend Thea married a 37-year-old man named Geir, making her Norway’s first ever child bride.
Let’s just let digest that little snippet of information, shall we?
This 12-YEAR-OLD girl GOT MARRIED to a man who is 25 YEARS her senior. A man who could have children the same age as Thea. A man who could have children older than Thea.
Thea has recently started writing a blog about her upcoming nuptials.
“My name is Thea and I ‘m 12 years old and is in 7th grade,” is how the ‘about me’ section on her blog begins. “October 11th 2014 I will marry, so on this blog you can read about my thoughts and preparation until the wedding.”
When Thea’s blog first went live, it very quickly became one of the most-read websites in Norway. And there’s no prize for guessing why.
According to some news reports, readers where quick to contact the police and child protection authorities.
But what these readers didn’t know was that the date of Thea’s wedding – the 11th of October 2014 – coincides with the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child. And that Thea’s wedding and its date weren’t ever actually going to happen. They were simply part of a careful and clever campaign executed by the aid agency Plan International in a bid to raise awareness of the 39,000 children under the age of 18 who are forced into marriage all over the world. Every. Single. Day.
In response to the campaign, Plan International says:
“We believe that provocation is a powerful tool in order to demonstrate a reality that truly is very provoking. We hope people will mobilise against child marriage by being girl sponsors, so that most of the girls facing Thea’s situation every day can escape their brutal fate.”
There’s no doubt about it, they certainly caught our attention. How about you?
You can read more about Plan’s campaign here or get involved on social media by using the hashtag #StopTheWedding (or #stoppbryllupet). Child Marriage is something that happens all over the world – including in Australia. To find out more information or to donate to Plan International, click here.