A girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds, a charity has claimed.
The UK-based Save the Children charity has published a report which reveals that in countries like India, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen girls as young as ten years old are often forced to marry much older men. An estimated 700 million women around the world married before they turned 18 and a third of those did so when they were under 15 years old.
Humanitarian crises such as wars and poverty are a major contributing factor in the prevalence of child marriage, the report suggests, and can trigger disadvantages in every part of a girl’s life.
Those who marry underage do not have “the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the CEO of Save the Children. The practice “starts a cycle of disadvantage” which means the girls “often can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape”. They are also significantly more likely to “fall pregnant and [become] exposed to STIs including HIV”.
Save the Children’s report, Every Last Girl, ranked countries on where it was the most difficult to be a girl. This ranking was decided based on such factors as child marriage, schooling, teen pregnancy and the number of women in government. Using those criteria, the charity said girls who live in Chad, Niger, the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia had things the hardest.
Last month the Pew Research Center found that people under the age of 18 can legally marry in as many as 116 countries worldwide, including England and Wales.
Read Every Last Girl here.