Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Child marriage is perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls.” —- UNICEF
Worldwide, around 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year — often without their consent, before they are mentally or sexually ready for such a relationship.
The practice is most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, despite laws in most countries banning it.
A key focus of the inaugural Trust Women conference, co-hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune in London in December 2012, was finding better ways to tackle the issue.
This video opened a session at the conference devoted to concrete solutions to stopping child and forced marriage.
More on: www.trustwomenconf.com
2012 © Thomson Reuters Foundation
Every three seconds, a girl under the age of 18 is married somewhere in the world.
That’s 25,000 a day, 10 million a year, 1/3 of all girls in developing countries.
Kanta Devi, a bride at 16: “Young children have babies — your life is ruined, your education is ruined. You become upset with everything in your life.”
Child marriage is most common in the poorest regions of Africa, South America and Latin America. The ten worst countries are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia.
When a child is married, the consequences are far-reaching. Often, she won’t be allowed to go to school. She’ll be expected to raise children while a child herself. Her children will likely grow up hungry, poor and uneducated. She may experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Her body is not fully developed…So she’s more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth. Get infected with HIV/AIDS or develop obstetric fistula, which causes severe incontinence.
Fariya Mohamed Farah, a bride at 17: “People would ask who is making that bad smell, coughing and covering their noses. So I was always isolating myself. This problem has separated me from my husband and forced him to divorce me.”
But while many countries outlaw it, often the law is not enforced or operates alongside
customary and religious laws when the law clashes with tradition, how do we end a practice
so entrenched…so widespread…so devastating for millions?