There is a law here in Mississippi which allows girls as young as 15 years old to be married with their parents’ consent, but boys younger than 17 aren’t allowed to get married. How can such a law exist? And here in the United States of America–the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
My name is Carrie and I’m 16 years old. I’m getting married today. I wish I could run away. I wish this was a nightmare and that I would wake up. I wish my parents would call off the wedding. I still can’t believe that they have given their consent. What about what I want? What about my plans for going to college? What about the future I want? I’m not ready for marriage. I’m too young. I should be dating boys my age not marrying a man who’s twice my age. I should be hanging out with my friends, going to the mall, the movies, doing things girls my age do.
The church is filled with friends and family. We are standing in front of the minister. Why is he going through this? As a man of God why isn’t he objecting? When he asks, “If anyone sees any reason why these two should not be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace,” I hold my breath, hoping that somebody–anybody would stand up and object. The silence mock me. No one says anything. I blink back the tears as the minister says, “By the power invested in me by the State of Mississippi, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”
I turn to face my husband. He pushes my veil back and leans down. I brace for the kiss. I stand there, stiff as a board. I don’t respond. When he draws back to look at me, I can see that he isn’t pleased. He takes me by the hand and we leave the platform. We go down the aisle amidst congratulations. Outside the church, we are showered with rice. He pulls me down the steps to the waiting limousine. The driver opens the door and I get in. I sit close to the window, almost pressing against the door, wishing I can escape. He gets in beside me. And we are off to the reception.
I can feel his eyes on me. When he rests his hand on mine, I pull it away. I don’t want him to touch me.
“We’re married now,” he said.
I don’t answer. I dread when we are alone together in his mansion. The thought of having sex with him terrifies me. I’m not ready to have sex. I wanted to finish my education, get a job, travel before I settled down with the guy of my choice, not my parents. How can I be a wife when I’m not even an adult? I don’t have any experience with men. I have never dated. I have never kissed a boy before or even held hands. Those were the things I was hoping to experience when I was ready but my parents took that away from me. I will never forgive them for what they have done. Never.
We drive to my husband’s estate which he inherited from his parents who are deceased. This is to be my new home. It’s massive with acres and acres of land surrounding it. The enormous hall where the reception is being held is elegantly decorated with beautiful floral displays but I find myself wishing that I was somewhere else. I prefer to be in my room reading or blogging or talking on the phone with one of my friends than sitting here, listening to my father, the groom, the best man and other people give toasts. They wish us a lifetime of happiness. They are all a bunch of hypocrites. How can they stand there and raise their glasses when they knew that it’s wrong for a girl my age to be married. I wish I had the guts to give them a piece of my mind. I wish I had run out of the church. I wish I had the guts to act on one of these unreal reflections .
The food looks very appetizing and expensive but I don’t have an appetite. I have to force myself to eat. Around me there is lots of laughter, merriment, clinking of glasses and background music. It’s a festive atmosphere but I feel like how I felt when I was at my grandmother’s funeral. I don’t say much. My husband does most of the talking.
Then, it’s time for us to have our first dance. People are anxious to shake a leg. I have to force myself to get up from the table and be escorted to the dance-floor. I avoid looking at him as we dance. I can feel his eyes burning into my forehead. After the dance is over. I dance with my father and he dances with my mother. I don’t say anything to my father. He tells me, “Carrie, you’re not a little girl anymore. You’re married now. Make sure you’re a wife to your husband.”
I don’t answer and I’m glad when the dance is over and I can go back to the table. For the rest of the night, I sit there, wishing the night would end and dreading when it did.
The reception continues until after mid-night and then the guests start leaving. My husband invites my parents to stay the night but they decline. “You two should be alone on your wedding night,” my Dad says with a smile.
My mother hugged me and says, “You be a good wife to Ben. And thank your lucky stars that he chose to marry you when he could have had his pick of so many women who were literally throwing themselves at him because they knew that he’s a great catch. Rich and handsome, what more could you want? Just think, Carrie, half of what he has is now yours. You’re set for life.”
I don’t answer and I’m not sorry to see them go. If I never see them again, that will be fine with me.
Everyone is gone. We are alone now. He takes my hand and leads up upstairs to the master bedroom. My heart is racing. Fear grips me. He closes the door and undresses. I stand there watching him. When he’s naked, he helps me off with my veil and my dress. “Don’t be afraid,” he says as he removes the rest of my things. “I won’t hurt you.”
My hands are covering my nakedness. He moves them away. He leans over and kisses me gently on the mouth. I don’t respond. I just stand there like a statue. He breaks off the kiss and leads me over to the four poster, king-sized bed. After he draws back the covers, he tells me to lie down. I lay down on my back, my body straight as a rod. He lays beside me.
My eyes are wide open. He kisses me on the lips again and then all over my body. My mind resists but my body responds to the pleasure his caresses are giving me. Then, he lies on top of me. My breath comes in short gasps as panic rises in me. He enters me and I cry out, recoiling from the pain. He stops moving. “It’s all right,” he says. “The pain will go away.”
It did and he continued to have sex with me. Afterwards, he got off me and lay on his back. I lay there, staring up at the ceiling. I’m no longer a virgin. Down there felt different now. I’m not the same Carrie anymore. I’m different now. My life is different. This is my home now. This is my bed. This is my husband lying next to me. This is my fate. I can’t change it.
This story of fiction is based on reality. Girls as young as 15 are being married to older men with the consent of their parents and the sanctioning of a law in Mississippi. Equality Now is fighting to have this law repealed. Girls need to be protected and given the right to say no to marriage. Genevieve Meyer was forced into marriage when she was 15 and now she’s trying to prevent this from happening to others. Read her story.