Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or an informal union of two people before the age of 18 years or less. Recognised internationally as a human rights violation, this practice is still prevalent and accounts for more than 700 million women worldwide, out of which more than about 250 million were married before age 15. Although boys are also married before the prescribed legal age, girls often appear to be disproportionately affected.
Child marriage amongst girls is most common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
⇏ Increased health risks: risk of premature pregnancy and motherhood
⇏ Exposes risk of premature births and complications
⇏ Usually leads to effective termination of the child’s education
⇏ Often leads to isolation of the children from their peers
⇏ Limits the child’s opportunities for career, life skills and vocational advancement
⇏ Increases risks of sexual and domestic violence
⇏ Reduces prospects of safer sex and hence makes them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
Percentage of women aged 20 to 49 years who were married or in union before ages 15 and 18, in the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage.
* Data Source: UNICEF 2014
⇏ Social, traditional and cultural conventions Inherent gender discrimination
⇏ Poverty and lack of awareness (most prevalent in rural areas)
⇏ A strategy for economic survival to reduce economic burden by the girls’ families