Each day, 37,000 girls are married before their 18th birthday.
In the developing world, 1/3 of girls are married before the age of 18. 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15. That means that in the next decade, 140 million girls will become wives before their 18th birthday. If the world doesn’t work together to end child marriage, the global number of child brides will reach 1.2 billion by 2050. Yikes.
South Asia has the largest number of child brides.
Technically, Western and Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of child marriage in the world—in Niger alone, 76% of marriages include child brides. However, because of its large population, the most child brides lives in South Asia, where 46% of girls are married before 18.
Girls in poverty are 2x more likely to become child brides.
In countries like Bangladesh, Mali, Mozambique, and Niger, 75% of the population live on less than $2 a day. In these same counties, more than half of girls are married off before they hit 18. Many families marry their daughters at a young age since they will have one less person to feed, clothe, and educate.
Educating girls is critical in decreasing child marriage rates.
In Mozambique, 60% percent of girls with no education are married by 18, compared to 10% of girls with secondary schooling and less than 1% of girls with higher education. Education grows knowledge, exposes new opportunities and can help shift culture norms when it comes to girls. Just having girls attending school can reinforce to the community that girls of school-going age are still children.
Pregnancy is a leading cause of death for girls between 15-19.
When girls are married at such a young age, their is huge pressure to start a family as soon as possible. Pregnant girls under 20 are at a high risk for complications, like obstetric fistula, and in many cases, death. They also face a higher risk of contracting HIV and other diseases because they usually marry an older man with previous sexual partners.
Child brides are twice as likely to experience violence.
In Bangladesh, 47% of married girls experience violence from their husband. A study in two states of India found that girls who were married before 18 were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped or threatened by their husbands than girls who married later. Child brides often show signs symptomatic of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and severe depression.
No one religion is associated with child marriage.
A variety of religions are associated with child marriage in countries throughout the world. It’s mainly driven by patriarchal values, the desire to control female sexuality, and the fact that it’s been a traditional practice for generations.
These stats are pretty hard to believe. Luckily, there are some great organizations working to end child marriage.