Five facts you didn't know about child marriage

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Worldwide | UNFPA

Around many parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a romantic time for couples. Yet millions of children are coupled up before they are ready, often against their wills. Child marriage exposes them to violence, including rape, and it often forces them out of school and into premature parenthood.

This year, for its annual #IDONT campaign, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is calling on the world to prioritize ending child marriage.

Better awareness of the problem and its consequences, may help end the practice once and for all. Below are five little-known facts about child marriage.

1. Child marriage is common. It takes place in every corner of the world.

Today more than 700 million women and girls were married before their 18th birthday.

Because poverty is one of the main driving factors behind child marriage, the phenomenon is most widespread in low- and middle-income countries, where 26.7 per cent of young women were child brides. Rates vary by country and region. West and Central Africa have the highest rate of child marriage, with four in 10 girls married before age 18. South Asia is home to the largest total number of child brides. However child marriage also takes place in high-income countries. Examples can be found everywhere.

2. Boys and girls may be married off as children- but girls are much more vulnerable to the practice.

Boys are also married off as children. New UNFPA figures evaluating data from 82 low- and middle-income countries show that 1 in 25 boys, or 3.8 per cent, marry before age 18.

3. Child marriage is almost universally banned.

Child marriage is illegal. But many countries permit exceptions with parental consent or under customary law.

4. Child marriage and teen pregnancy are closely linked.

Child marriage is often a precursor to early pregnancy. In developing countries, 9 out of 10 adolescent births take place among girls who are already married. These early pregnancies pose serious health risks to girls whose bodies may not be developed enough for motherhood. Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls.

5. Empowering girls is critical to ending child marriage.

Young people must also be empowered to stand up for themselves and their rights. This means they must be given accurate information about their sexual and reproductive health, and about their human rights.

When vulnerable young people are empowered with this knowledge, they can advocate for themselves, and even persuade their families to cancel or delay engagements.

Read the full article from UNFPA. 

Help Girls Say #IDONT to child marriage Video.