A new study released by the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund revealed that that the number of child marriages have slightly declined. Even though there is a slightly positive downward trend, we cannot stop our work to end child marriages. There remain hundreds of millions of people worldwide that were married off as children. The majority of them are young girls.
According to the report, the percentage of women that were married before their 18th birthday in the last decade decreased from 25% to 21%. Of the 765 million underaged married couples, approximately 650 million are young girls.
By being married at such a young age, girls and boy are being forced into adult roles that mean the end of their childhood. Their rights are infringed upon.
Another point in the report is that the risk of a child marriage increases as the family’s income level and educational levels decrease. Child marriages can only be reduced in the long term with focused research, investment and by strengthening boys and girls in their understanding of their rights. Furthermore, comprehensive development of high-quality educational opportunities can also help.
Every Fifth Woman
According to the report, child marriages involving boys are common in several sub-Saharan African countries, in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in South and East Asia as well as in the Pacific area. The most male child marriages take place in Central African Republic followed by Nicaragua and Madagascar.
However, according to the report, most child marriages still involve young girls. Every fifth young woman was married off as a child. With young men, every 30th one was married off as a child. That means that every year, approximately 12 Million more girls are married off. These numbers are only slowly receding.
Child marriage is defined as a marriage where at least one person has not yet reached the marriageable age as determined by law.