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Home > About Us > Press Center > Women and Girls


Before she's ready: Fifteen places girls marry by 15

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Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz
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09/03/2008Millions of girls married early lose out on health, schooling


Before she's ready: Fifteen places girls marry before 15. 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.

While most girls in North America are starting a new school year this week, millions of their peers across the developing world must stay home and stop their education because they have become child brides. The result is a continuing spiral of poverty, illiteracy and maternal and child health problems in impoverished and underdeveloped communities worldwide, humanitarian workers say.

Child and early marriage before the ages of 14 and 18, respectively are expected to claim the futures of some 100 million girls in the next decade, depriving most of them of the chance to finish school and putting them at higher risk of injury or death due to early childbearing, and of contracting HIV. Aid workers also report that the current global food crisis is exacerbating the practice, pushing more poor families to send young daughters into marriage in their struggle to cope with the strains of deeper poverty and hunger.

Fatima, 11, was recently engaged to a man twice her age in exchange for $6,000.
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.
© 2008 Mary Kate MacIsaac/ World Vision
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.
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.
©2008 Ann Birch/World Vision

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