New Report Exposes High Rate of Child Marriages
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 10:55 AM

Many organizations are increasingly calling upon governments to help stop the practice of child marriage. Underage marriage is a violation of UN conventions, and though many countries have outlawed the practice, it continues to occur - especially in the poorest regions of the world.

Plan UK, a global children’s charity, has published a report that chronicles the rates of child marriage across the world. Each year, ten million girls become child brides. In some regions of South America, North Africa and Asia, one in three girls under eighteen are married, and one in seven girls under 15 are married. The report also exposes the prevalence of child marriage in Europe. In central and eastern Europe, 2.2 million girls are married before they turn eighteen, with the highest rates in Georgia and Turkey. 

The consequences of child marriage are severe. The report notes that the practice perpetuates a cycle of poverty because child brides end their education when they are married and will be less likely to send their children to school. Giving birth at a young age poses great health risks for the young mother and the child. A fifteen-year-old girl is five times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in her twenties. A baby born to a mother under the age of eighteen is 60% more likely to die before the child is one year old.

Some experts have pegged child marriage to be the most influential development issue as it affects and influences so many other problems. The practice of child marriage denies education to girls, causes serious health complications, and effects child mortality and gender equality.

Compiled From: "World Turning blind eye to 19 million child brides every year, charity warns", The Guardian, UN Wire, (26 June 2011)