Child Brides & Child Marriage – Key Facts

The median age of marriage for child brides is 15, but some as young as 7 or 8 are forced into marriage.

Forced Marriages Put Girls under 18 at Greater Health and Economic Risks

International Center for Research on Women, regarded as the leading international institution on gender and development, provides the following data on child marriage:

1. Worldwide, an estimated 51 million girls younger than 18 are child brides.

2. The majority of child marriages occur in West and East Africa and South Asia.

3. Over the next decade, another 100 million girls will become child brides.

4. Child marriage endangers girls.

  • Child brides experience a higher incidence of domestic violence, marital abuse (including physical, sexual or psychological abuse) and abandonment.

5. Child marriage increases maternal mortality and infant mortality rates.

6. Many child brides are well below 15.

7. Risk factors for young teen girls who give birth are greatly increased.

  • Girls who become pregnant under age 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women who give birth in their 20s.

8. Sexual disparity in child marriages increases risk of AIDS.

  • Because many often marry older men with more sexual experience, child brides face a higher risk of contracting HIV.

9. Child marriage adversely impacts the education of girls

  • In some of the poorest countries, girls readied for early marriage do not attend school. Those that do are frequently forced to drop out after marriage.

10. The prevalence of child marriage is related to poverty levels.

  • Child brides are more likely to come from a poor family and once married, are more likely to continue living in poverty. In some countries, child marriages among the poorest fifth of the population occur at rates up to five times that of the richest fifth.

Source: Child Marriage Talking Points, International Center for Research on Women ICRW.org  Fact Sheet: Child Marriage and Poverty ICRW.org

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