Early Maariage as A Violation of Human Rights
Judy Hale Reed
increase culturally competent and sustainable social change, to make our
world a safer and better place to live.
A. Map of Article
First, to frame the issue, Part II establishes that early marriage is widely
practiced in many contexts and cultures, and briey examines rationales
for early marriage in cultures where it is practiced. Early marriage is not
rare or isolated, nor is it conned to less developed places, although rising
income and education, urbanization, and socio-economic stability cor-
relate with higher marriage ages.
Next, Part III uses three legal theories to deconstruct the phenom-
enon of early marriage: legal anthropology, legal pluralism, and critical
feminist intersectional theory. is part begins with an introduction to
the legal anthropology concepts of insider (“emic”) and outsider (“etic”)
perspectives for a comparative analysis. Next is legal pluralism, or the
analysis of coexisting law or law-like systems,3 that is, dierent and some-
times conicting laws or law systems within one socio-political space.4
Once these two theories are laid out as a foundation, the article presents
intersectional feminist analysis as an ideal framework to understand in-
terconnected forms of oppression in order to respectfully engage in cul-
tures to support sustainable change.
Bringing in the legal norms and standards within which these theo-
ries operate, Part IV examines the harms of early marriage from a human
rights perspective, and summarizes the international human rights stan-
dards that are meant to protect girls.
Laying the groundwork for the analysis in Parts VI and VII, Part
V presents a case study of Romanian Roma (“Gypsy”)5 culture, and ear-
3. Susan Carey & Gary Mundy, Informal Systems of Justice: e Formation of Law
Within Gypsy Communities, 45 A. J. C. L. 251, 251-2 (1997) (discussing
Weyrauch & Bell’s, infra note 28, presentation of the concept of “autonomous
lawmaking,” the use of informal controls to maintain social order through social
shame and for extreme cases relying, for example, in some Roma communities on
a tribunal system of justice, and in other communities relying on bloodfeuds for
4. Franz von Benda-Beckman, Citizens, Strangers, and Indigenous People, 9 L
A. 1 (1997).
5. “Gypsy” is widely considered a pejorative term for several distinct and sometimes