Marrying Too Young - End Child Marriage

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Despite near-universal commitments to end child marriage, one in three girls in developing countries (excluding China) will probably be married before they are 18. One out of nine girls will be married before their 15th birthday. Most of these girls are poor, less-educated, and living in rural areas. Over 67 million women 20-24 year old in 2010 had been married as girls. Half were in Asia, one-fifth in Africa. In the next decade 14.2 million girls under 18 will be married every year. This will rise to an average of 15.1 million girls a year, starting in 2021 until 2030, if present trends continue. While most countries allow girls to marry before they turn 18 with parental or other consent, poverty often underlies child marriage. Humanitarian crises exacerbate girls’ vulnerability. Some parents genuinely believe that marriage will secure their daughters’ future, while others see their daughters as a burden or even a commodity. Child marriage stands in the way of ensuring that girls have healthy and productive lives. Child marriage directly threatens health and wellbeing: complications from pregnancy and childbirth together are the main cause of death among adolescent girls 15-19 in developing countries. Reaching puberty should mark the beginning of a gradual transition to a healthy and productive adulthood. Instead, for many girls, puberty marks an accelerating trajectory into inequality. Child marriage is a primary source of this, curtailing a critical period for growth, learning, identity formation and experimentation: each of which is essential if maturation into fully rounded human beings is to be unhindered.


Edilberto Loaiza, Sylvia Wong

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