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Violence against women: Child Marriage

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We are going to focus on Child Marriage in this month’s blog as we continue our focus on Violence against women.

Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult or another child. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), globally child marriage affects girls disproportionately and one in five girls is married or in union before reaching the age of 18. In less developed countries, the number is much higher, 40 percent before the age of 18 and 12 percent before the age of 15. According to the United Nations (UN), if nothing is done by 2030, the number of girls married as children will reach 1 billion. These statistics were published pre-COVID. Due to school closures and poverty factors related to COVID, the number is estimated to be much higher.

Child marriage is driven by several factors.

  1. Gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are inferior to boys and men • In many communities, marrying a daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family. • Driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, for instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc. • Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honor. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonor on their family.

  2. Tradition • It has been happening for generations • In some communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become women