I'm Standing Up Campign April 2021
Child marriage which refers to any formal or informal marriage of both girls and boys under the age of 18 (although it disproportionately affects girls) is still very prevalent around the world.
According to Girls Not Brides a child under the age of 18 is married every 3 seconds.
Despite the laws set out by the Convention of the Rights Of The Child and the Laws set out in 1948 by the United Nations in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that persons must be at “Full Age” which is considered 18 years old when married, and that marriage should be entered into “Freely” and with “Full Consent” countries are still not enforcing these basic human rights for children.
KEY Facts *
90% of births to adolescents take place within the context of marriage.
Complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading
causes of deathin girls aged 15-19.
Girls who marry before age 15 are 50% more likely to suffer from intimate partner violence
than those who marry later.
Girls are most likely to have undergone both female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage in Sudan (53%), Somaliland (52%), Sierra Leone (37%), Burkina Faso (39%), and Ethiopia (36%)
*Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) describes any procedure that intentionally alters female genital organs for non-medical reasons (Source: the World Health Organisation, WHO).
It has no health benefits for girls. It can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new-born deaths.
*Source Girls Not Brides
Child marriage is rooted in gender inequality as in many communities it is still thought that girls are inferior to boys. It is a global problem as it happens across different countries, religions and cultures.
Child marriage has long-term consequences on girls, including social isolation, domestic violence and complications in childbirth, as a result of a child’s underdeveloped body. Child brides also have a higher risk of contracting HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, malaria, death during childbirth,
and obstetric fistulas.
1. The loss of adolescence,
2. forced sexual relations,
3. Denial of freedom and personal development
Early marriage has profound psychosocial and emotional consequences for the child.
Babies born from girls that are not fully developed are also at greater risk for premature birth.
This means that countries that allow child marriage are committing human rights violations.
In Yemen, India, Afghanistan and Somalia girls as young as 10 are being forced to marry men.
Sometimes these men are much older than the girls
Poverty is one of the things that drives child marriage. Girls from poor families are more likely to be married early than their richer peers. In Nigeria, 40% of the poorest girls are married by 15 compared to 3% of the richest. · India has the highest number of child marriages of any country, partly owing to the large size of its population, with 47% of girls married
under 18 – around 24.6 million.
In order to make changes we have to educate communities about the disadvantages of early marriage. Girls need a chance to be educated, to thrive and achieve. By forcing girls to marry much older men we are robbing them of their freedom.
*Girls from poor families are more likely to be married early than their richer peers. In Nigeria, 40% of the poorest girls are married by 15 compared to 3% of the richest
*India has the highest number of child marriages of any country, partly owing to the large size of its population, with 47% of girls married under 18 – around 24.6 million
Even In the USA as of 2019, there was no statutory minimum age in 13 states. *Understanding State Statutes on Minimum Marriage Age and Exceptions
*Compiled by the Tahirih Justice Center (July 2019)
Examples of Early Marriage (Unicef)
Rajasthan, India: The custom survives of giving very small children away in marriage. On the auspicious day of Akha Teej, the mass solemnization of marriages between young boys and girls is performed. From the parents’ point of view, this is the tried and tested way of organizing the passing on of property and wealth within the family.1 A small but significant proportion of the children involved are under age 10, and some are mere toddlers of two or three-years-old.
Niger: A recent study by UNICEF in six West African countries, 2 showed that 44 per cent of 20-24 year old women in Niger were married under the age of 15. The need to follow tradition, reinforce ties among or between communities, and protect girls from out-of-wedlock pregnancy were the main reasons given. In the communities studied, all decisions on the timing of marriage and the choice of spouse are made by the fathers.
Bangladesh: Many Bangladeshi girls are married soon after puberty, partly to free their parents from an economic burden and partly to protect the girls’ sexual purity. Where a girl’s family is very poor or she has lost her parents, she may be married as a third or fourth wife to a much older man, to fulfil the role of sexual and domestic servant.
Albania: Families in rural areas, reduced to abject poverty by the post-Communist transition, encourage their daughters to marry early in order to catch potential husbands before they migrate to the cities in search of work, and to avoid the threat of kidnapping on the way to school.3
Estimates of future trends: According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the total number of women married in childhood will grow from more than 700 million today to around 950 million by 2030. By 2050 this number would reach 1.2 billion.
Child marriage among boys
Boys do not face the same risks and consequences due to biological and social differences, the practice is nonetheless a rights violation for children of both sexes.
Child grooms are forced to take on adult responsibilities for which they may not be prepared. He may be faced with early fatherhood and may be pressured into proving for the new family. This is almost certainly affect his education as well.
Globally, over 115 million boys were married before age 18.
What can we do?
We have to challenge traditional narratives from within local communities, engaging the support of community leaders. Changes can be made by educating and raising awareness about the detriment of child marriage and the importance of prioritising girls’ education. We need to show what a difference this could make to the economy of the community by having healthier, more educated children.
By reducing child marriage we can improve the health of millions of young girls and boys around the world.
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20 Countries with the highest prevalence rates of child marriage
68% Central African Republic
52% Burkina Faso
52% South Sudan
37% Democratic Republic of the Congo
39% Sierra Leone