Every year, 12 million girls are subjected to Child, Early and Forced
Married children are more vulnerable to early pregnancy, domestic abuse and lifelong poverty
Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. Many factors interact to place a child at risk of marriage, including poverty, the perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’, family honor, social norms, customary or religious laws that condone the practice, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country’s civil registration system. While the practice is more common among girls than boys, it is a violation of rights regardless of sex.
Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement and placing her at increased risk of domestic violence. Although the impact on child grooms has not been extensively studied, marriage may similarly place boys in an adult role for which they are unprepared, and may place economic pressures on them and curtail their opportunities for further education or career advancement.
Across the globe, levels of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 4 in 10 young women were married before age 18, followed by South Asia, where 3 in 10 were married before age 18. Lower levels of child marriage are found in Latin America and Caribbean (25 per cent), the Middle East and North Africa (18 per cent), and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (11 per cent).
References: UNICEF – Child Marriage Data October 2019