No more child brides

The United Nations Fund reports that there are 650 million young women in the world who are forced into marriage; among them, 12 million are between the ages of 12 and 17.

These early marriages have very serious consequences because they cause school dropouts, foster domestic violence and abuse cases, and lead to a lack of independence and empowerment.

In addition, early pregnancies have a high risk of mortality for both mother and child.
This is Tina Marinari, campaigns coordinator for Amnesty International who has been working on the issue for years.

What are the countries where this phenomenon of child brides is most common ?

“To date this phenomenon sees South Asia in the lead, where one in four little girls is given in marriage to a much older man, and next we find sub-Saharan Africa.
Compared to estimates published five years ago, the percentage of young women married in childhood has decreased from 21 percent to 19 percent.
However, the figure is still too high to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ending child marriage by 2030.”

What are the motivations that lead a girl child to marry?

“We have placed this problem in specific countries around the world where the causes may coincide with economic crises, poverty, health problems, armed conflicts, and the devastating effects of climate change.
All of these conditions lead many families to seek a false sense of refuge in early marriage. Girls living in fragile contexts are undoubtedly twice as likely as the global average to become child brides.
Moreover, as expected, the pandemic has made the situation worse as it has increased the poverty rate.”

What are these girls up against?

“Early marriages have very serious consequences in that they set in motion very delicate mechanisms that go to the detriment of the growth process of these girls.

Many of them drop out of school so they don’t get an education and put a brake on the possibility of emancipating themselves and becoming independent.
Some find themselves victims of domestic violence and face early pregnancy.
Let us not forget that each year more than 22,000 girls and young women die during pregnancies because their young bodies are not ready to have children.

In West and Central Africa, nearly half of the annual deaths are related to early marriage, and the mortality rate among teenage mothers is four times higher than anywhere else

In South Asia, there are 2,000 child marriage-related deaths each year, or six per day, followed next by East Asia and the Pacific with 650 annual deaths, and Latin America and the Caribbean with 560 deaths.”

Why are there still countries that allow this?

“We are talking about societies with great fragility and vulnerability where women are not considered in the way that is normal for us in the West.
In some of these countries once you reach puberty you are considered an adult for all intents and purposes, and for this reason, early marriage does not turn out to be something abnormal.”

How should action be taken?

“We need to work to ensure the rights of all girls and young women, whatever their race or economic status, by developing inclusive policies and programs.
We at Amnesty International carry out global awareness campaigns and advocacy programs where the phenomenon is most prevalent.

Moreover, we believe that these young people have the right to have their voices heard, which is why we call on governments to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in their country’s public decisions.”

(Interview curated by news agency)

Amnesty International