One girl under 15 is married every seven seconds, according to new analysis by Save the Children that reveals the scale of the threat posed by child marriage to education, health and children’s safety.
Girls as young as 10 are marrying – to much older men – in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, India, and Somalia.
A new report released Monday by Save the Children, Every Last Girl: Free to live, free to learn, free from harm, has ranked countries in an index from the best to worst country in which to be a girl, based on child marriage, schooling, teen pregnancy, maternal deaths, and number of female representatives in national government.
Countries at the bottom of the index include Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia, many of which have high rates of child marriage. Countries at the top include Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium.
“Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the opportunity to learn, develop and be children,” said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children.
“Girls who marry too early often can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape. They get pregnant and bear children before they’re physically and emotionally ready, which can have devastating consequences on their and their baby’s health.”
The international community has pledged to end child marriage by 2030, but if current trends continue, the total number of women married in childhood will grow from more than 700 million today to around 950 million by 2030, and to 1.2 billion by 2050.
Save the Children released the report ahead of International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, a day dedicated to highlighting the barriers girls face globally and to empowering girls to reach their full potential.
Photo courtesy: Colin Crowley / Save the Children