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Child Marriage Is Not a Thing of the Past

UNICEF Ethiopia CC

A Muslim girl prays at the mosque at the Semera GirlÕs Boarding School, a school that serves as a safe haven for many girls that escape their home villages after being forced to marry at a young age, in Semera, Afar Region, Ethiopia, 8 January 2015.

Aleteia - published on 12/17/15 - updated on 06/07/17

41 percent of women in the world are forced to marry as children

Before you get upset at what you see in this video, you should know it’s not real — it was created by a Lebanese organization called Kafa (which means “enough” in Arabic) to draw attention to the problem of child marriage, which is still practiced and sanctioned in many parts of the world.

According to the International Research Center on Women (ICRW), about 70 million women between the ages of 20 and 24 years (almost 1 in 3) were married before the age of 18, and a third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 (1 in 9 are married before the age of 15). Child marriage is most commonly practiced in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Nearly 400 million women age 20 to 49 years — 41 percent of the world population in this age group — were forced to marry as children.

Poverty and a lack of education drive child marriage: Girls living in poor households are almost twice as likely to marry before 18 than girls in higher income households, and those with higher levels of schooling are less likely to marry as children. ICRW’s website says that in Mozambique, about 60 percent of girls with no education are married before the age of 18, compared to 10 percent of girls with secondary schooling and fewer than 1 percent of girls with higher education. Educating teenage girls has succeeded in postponing the age of marriage in a number of developing countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

Girls forced to marry as children face many hardships and risks: pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15 to 19 around the world, and child brides face a higher risk of contracting HIV because they often marry much older, sexually experienced men.

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