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The Extent Of Child Marriage And How It Can Be Prevented

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Marriage has become a legal way of allowing sexual violence against women. Many cultures in various countries allow marrying off girls. This child marriage is a kind of sexual violence. Girls do not have the capacity to stop being involved in a relationship with another. Most girls do not have the knowledge or have little knowledge about sex before getting married. Thus, these child victims engage in forced first sexual encounters.

Child marriage is prevalent in Africa and South Asia. Middle East Countries, Latin American nations, and Eastern Europe are also places where early marriages occur. Children as young as 7 or 8 years old are forced into these unions in Ethiopia and sections of West Africa. The average age at first marriage is 17 in Nigeria. However, in Kebbi State of Northern Nigeria, the median age is 11 years old. Many cases of child marriages occur in Uganda, Niger, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Early marriages occur in both urban and rural areas in South Asia. The median age at first marriage is 19 years in Nepal. A research study reports that seven percent of girls get married before ten years old, with 40% by the age of 15 years. The average age at first marriage for women in India is 16.4 years. In Western Europe and in North America, an estimated 5% of marriages involve women younger than 19 years old.

Child Marriage: A Human Rights Issue

The international community is recognizing that human child marriage is a violation of human rights. Early marriage also is an obstacle in obtaining Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations, governments, and non-governmental organizations are initiating global movements that include Girls Not Brides – The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.

Global Education First Initiative, a pet program by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, recognizes child marriage as an obstacle to the right of education. This is further emphasized by 2012 Out of Wedlock report by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown.

Educate Girls To Prevent Child Marriage

UNICEF reports that one in three girls in developing countries will marry before 18 years. Researches conclude that there is a high probability that a girl will marry as a child in communities where education is not a priority. Girls have an increased probability of being illiterate and do not have the knowledge of her human rights. Girls will have better chances of gaining employment if they have access to primary and secondary education.

Empower Girls To Prevent Child Marriage

Girls are perceived to be household liabilities in countries where child marriage is rampant. Girls have low self-esteem and exhibit low confidence in societies where boys are favored. Dr. Asok Dyalchand of the Institute of Health Management in India conducted a research project on rural teenage girls in India. Results show that women who have low self-esteem have greater risks of child marriage. Young girls who undergo empowerment programs have improved their self-efficacy and sense of self-worth. The median age for women who undergo child marriage has increased from 14.5 years to 17 years old.


Everyone deserves to have their rights respected and uphold. This includes girls who should not be forced into unions that they do not want to be part of. Child marriage is truly a global issue that needs to be addressed by governments and civil organizations. Certain steps have already been started. The question now is whether you will be part in the fight against child marriages.

The choice is yours.

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