|Before she's ready: Fifteen places girls marry by 15 (PDF), a new briefing paper from Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, illustrates the causes and human costs of early marriage in countries and regions where it is most common. With contributions from development and advocacy workers in the field, the report also highlights innovative and successful programs in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia where a variety of approaches aim to tackle the underlying needs that often fuel the practice.|
Fatima, 11, was recently engaged to a man twice her age in exchange for $6,000. In Afghanistan, amid a serious drought and the global food crisis, families are exchanging their daughters into marriage. Afghan law states that a girl must be 16 years of age and give consent to marry, but in the face of increasing hunger and debt, such laws mean little.
A 13-year-old bride who is being married to a 38-year-old man in a village in Niger — in accordance with tradition — stays hidden in a room during the religious and festive part of her marriage ceremony. In Niger, only 15 percent of adult women are literate, and less than one-third of girls enroll in primary school.