The marrying off of young girls is a practice found in over forty countries, and as of right now it is estimated by UNICEF there are over sixty million child brides in the world and this figure could reach 100 million.
The Bride Price: Consequences of Child Marriage Worldwide is a video containing moving images by Stephanie Sinclair – recipient of the 2007 UNICEF Photo of the Year – on the many issues of child marriage. Sinclair’s photos include compelling images of child brides in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and India.
This video is available on YouTube
According to UNICEF:
Child marriage is a violation of human rights whether it happens to a girl or a boy, but it represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls.
The harmful consequences include separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education.
Child marriage can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims. Because they cannot abstain from sex or insist on condom use, child brides are often exposed to such serious health risks as premature pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and, increasingly, HIV/AIDS.
Parents may consent to child marriages out of economic necessity.
Marriage may be seen as a way to provide male guardianship for their daughters, protect them from sexual assault, avoid pregnancy outside marriage, extend their childbearing years or ensure obedience to the husband’s household.
Facts and Figures•
- Globally, 36 per cent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before they reached 18 years of age.
- An estimated 14 million adolescents between 15 and 19 give birth each year. Girls in this age group are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their twenties.
- Marriage of young girls is most common in sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. in Niger, 77 per cent of 20- to 24-year-old women were married before the age of 18. in Bangladesh, this rate was 65 per cent.
Below are some links to websites and articles on the practice of child marriage.
Fact and Figures from ICRW on child marriage
NY Times Article on child marriage
An article by Mariama Kandeh, a journalist from Sierra Leone, from the Mail and Guardian, South Africa
A UN Population fund Fact Sheet on early marriage worldwide.
An overview of forced marriages worldwide
A blog entitled Uprooting the Pumpkin written by Mwanabibi Sikamo, a Zambian woman currently living in England.
An article on child marriages in Zambia
A UNICEF overview of early marriage.