Child Brides to the Patriarchy: Unveiling the Appropriation of the Missing Girl Child
Feminist religious scholars have offered important insight about the ways that patriarchal religious systems often negatively impact the lives of women. However, few consider the ways these same structures affect the lives of girls. This essay uses the backdrop of actual child marriage, a practice widely recognized as a violation of girls' human rights, to formulate questions about the ways the Roman Catholic ritual of first communion may also initiate girls into patriarchal disempowerment under the veil of a celebration. The author postulates that appropriation of girls' selfhood into the roles of “child bride” and “mother” is a critical component of the patriarchal religious construct, leading to blind subjugation. A broad revisioning of Catholic ritual and doctrine is suggested as necessary to improving the health, well-being, and empowerment of girls, their families, and communities.
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