As we near the midway point in Women’s History Month, we turn our focus to the worldwide issue of child brides.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020 (in less than seven years) if current rates of early marriage continue. A whopping 50 million of those girls will be younger than 15. To put things in perspective, every day approximately 25-30,000 girls become child brides.
While child brides exist the world over, there are certainly more cases in particular regions. In south Asia, nearly half of young women are married by their 18th birthday and in sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is more than one-third.
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet (the former President of Chile) recently called child marriage a violation of girls’ human rights, as it halts education, increases health risks through early pregnancy and motherhood, and increases the chances of girls being the victims of sexual violence in the home.
Poverty is perhaps the major driver of child marriage. Poor families marry off their daughters young and the prospect of receiving a “bride price”—money or livestock in exchange for a daughter’s hand in marriage—is particularly tempting in difficult times. Girls who resist marriage can face rape, beatings, and sometimes death for doing so. The issue is deeply heartbreaking and we must spread awareness of it as much as we can in an attempt to stop girls from being forced into such horrible situations.
To learn more visit Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 200 non-governmental organizations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential.