Every single day, it is estimated that more than 25,000 girls under the age of 18 are married. At this rate, 100 million more girls – around 10 million each year – will become child brides over the next decade.
Child marriage is most common in the developing world, where one in three girls is married before she is 18 and one in seven girls is married before she is 15. This practice not only harms the young brides, but also impedes the development of their communities and societies as a whole.
Child marriage puts girls at risk and perpetuates poverty
Girls face huge risks when they marry young. They are much more prone to death or injury due to early sexual activity and early childbearing. A girl under the age of 15 is five times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in her twenties.
The children of young mothers are also at much greater risk. When a mother is under 18, her baby is 60 per cent more likely to die before its first birthday than that of a baby born to a mother older than 19.
Because young brides often have older husbands, they may not have the power to negotiate safe sexual behaviour. This means they are more vulnerable to HIV infection and more likely to suffer domestic violence.
Girls who marry young also find it very difficult to complete their education. This increases the education gap between boys and girls and increases the likelihood that the girl and her family will live in poverty.