A child bride is a girl who enters into marriage before she reaches the age of 18 years. Most times, child brides are either forced or tricked into marriage by their families. This adversely affects the future and development of the child.
The girl who gets married before 18 years might loose an opportunity to complete her education. Also there are health implications associated with being a child bride.She is at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), cervical cancer, malaria and death during childbirth.
According to a report by Save the Children International which was released on Tuesday, “Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children,” Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt said.
“Girls who marry too early often can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape… They also bear children before their bodies are fully prepared, which can have devastating consequences on their and their baby’s health.”
The report states that girls as young as 10 in least developed countries are married off to much older men. A ranking released by the report puts Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, Chad and Niger as the worst places to be a girl.
“In Niger, for example, 76% of young women were married before they were 18, and one in five adolescent girls gives birth a year on average,” Save the Children said. “All countries at the bottom of the ranking must focus urgently on ensuring that policy and practice uphold girls’ rights in health and education, as well as in the household.”
Countries with the best ratings are Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium while India has the highest number of child marriages of any country. According to the report, in 2006 alone, about 24.6 million under the age of 18 were married.
Girls in conflict zones and poor families are more likely to become brides. Many families see marriage as a means of ensuring the safety of their child.
“A lot of families see marrying off their daughter as one way to protect them,” says Misty Buswell, Save the Children’s Advocacy & Communications director for the Middle East.
Those from poor homes are married off to men who can take care of their daughters and her families. The report also stated that 40% of the poorest girls in Nigeria are married by 15, compared to 3% of the richest girls.
Is poverty, hunger or war a good enough reason to give out a girl as young as 12 years in marriage? Certainly not.
Say no to child brides today.