- Child marriage mostly affects young girls
According to Girls Not Brides, 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year worldwide. Girls Not Brides is a partnership of more than 400 civil society organisations working to end child marriage worldwide and in India. That means roughly 41,000 underage girls are married each day, or one every two seconds.
That doesn’t mean young boys aren’t affected by child marriage. Estimates from UNICEF suggest around 18 percent of child marriages involve boys under the age of 18.
- India has the highest number of child brides in the world
One-third of the world’s child marriages occur in India. According to a 2014 UNICEF report, of the 720 million women in the world married before the age of 18, one-third – around 240 million – are in India.
An estimated 47 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. The rates vary between the states but are as high as 69 percent and 65 percent in Bihar and Rajasthan respectively.
- Child marriages are harmful to maternal and infant health
According to another report, 22 percent of girls married under the age of 18 have started bearing children. Another striking statistic is that 90 percent of adolescent pregnancies in developing countries are among married girls.
WHO also states that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19. Pregnant girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.
Child brides are also more likely to experience domestic violence than women who marry later in life concluded a study conducted in India by the International Center for Research on Women. They found girls who were married before they turned 18 were twice as likely to report being abused by their husbands than girls who married at a later age.
- Child marriage is directly related to poverty
In some countries, child marriage rates among the poorest fifth of the population are five times as high as the richest fifth of the population. In short, child brides are more likely to come from poor households and more likely to continue living in poverty once they are married.
Child marriage also affects girls’ education. Girls being prepared for marriage are often not allowed to attend school, or forced to drop out during the marriage or after marriage.
- Child marriage is neither inevitable nor ineradicable
Here’s what you can do to help
Eradicating child marriage requires a unified effort across all levels of society. By using a range of techniques adapted to the myriad cultural situations in which child marriage exists. Girls Not Brides has developed a Theory of Change that demonstrates the range of approaches needed. They have highlighted four categories where the strongest efforts should be directed:
a) Empowering young girls
b) Mobilising families and communities
c) Providing services
d) Establishing and implementing laws and policies.
Each of these four categories is crucial in the battle against child marriage. To take action now, visit the following websites and see how you can get involved:
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.