‘142 million child brides by 2020′

STOP PRACTICE: There’s a need to debunk misperception that marriage protect girls.

KUALA LUMPUR: CHILD marriages can be eradicated not only with a strong political will, but also by educating  society, especially men, about the practice.

The “Girls not brides” global coordinator Lakshmi Sundaram said young men must be educated that girls married before they turn 18 were at a higher risk of complicated pregnancy and advised against it.

“The global community must take child marriage seriously. If we don’t, 142 million girls will marry as children by 2020,” she said at a press conference at the Women Deliver Global Conference 2013 here.

“Young boys should be educated that real men do not marry young girls.”

She said girls who married as children were not only more likely to lose out in education but also faced a higher risk of health problems and gender inequality as child brides had little say.

“Many child brides have also described their first sexual experience as forced. They are also more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”

She said in the developing world, one in three girls were married by 18, one in nine by 15, and some were as young as 9.

“Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 in the developing world.”

According to Unicef statistics, child marriages was 30 per cent or more in 42 countries with 75 per cent in Niger, Bangladesh (66 per cent), India (47 per cent), Afghanistan (40 per cent), Brazil (36 per cent) and Sudan (33 per cent).

Sundaram added that child marriage cut across countries, culture, religions and ethnicity and occurred around the world.

by Elivin Fernandez and Nuradilla Noorazam.

Comments are closed.