CHILD MARRIAGE IN WEALTHY SOCIETIES

Child marriage, defined by the United Nations as marriage before the age of 18, is widely recognized as a violation of human rights and a marker of gender inequality. Nearly all research and advocacy attention to child marriage focuses on South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, child marriage occurs across the globe, including in wealthy nations such as Canada and the United States. This project draws attention to child marriage in wealthy settings by highlighting laws that permit the practice and by describing child marriage practices in settings where it has previously been ignored or overlooked. The project also serves as a case study of double standards within contemporary global health practice.

THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD MARRIAGE

Marriage is a major event that shapes lives. For those who marry as children, marriage may influence their educational and occupational trajectories, their fertility, and many other aspects of their health and well being. This project investigates how marrying as a child affects health across the lifespan among both men and women using modern epidemiologic methods.

USING RADIO PROGRAMMING TO MODIFY GENDER NORMS REGARDING MARRIAGE

Radio is a cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people and storytelling has the potential to change perspective. This short-term project studies whether targeted radio programs can modified knowledge of and support for child marriage in Ibadan, Nigeria. It is being conducted collaboratively with faculty at the University of Ibadan College of Medicine.

THE AGE GATE:
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THE RANGE, CONSISTENCY, AND NORMATIVE BASIS OF AGE THRESHOLDS IN LAW AND POLICY

Age thresholds are ubiquitous in law and policy. Canadians can independently consent to some medical procedures as young as 14, including abortion, but they cannot legally consent to sex or marriage until 16, cannot vote until 18 or 19 (depending on province/territory of residence) and, in Quebec, they cannot purchase cannabis until 21. These thresholds are spread across a broad age range, are frequently debated, and change relatively often.

This highly interdisciplinary project studies the idea of using age as a gate-keeping device to define the rights and responsibilities of individuals. We aim to answer questions such as: What is age a proxy for? Do Canadians ascribe certain capacities, such as ability to reason or foresee long-term consequences, to these age thresholds? Under what circumstances is it appropriate to use such a threshold, knowing that it stands proxy for other considerations and will therefore yield false positives and false negatives?

This research is in its early stages and currently focuses on Canada. It is being done collaboratively with philosophers, ethicists, and jurists across the country: Daniel Weinstock, Vardit Ravitsky, Andrew Botterell, Samantha Brennan, and Monica Ruiz-Casares.