Women and girls are forced into marriage
Some 640 million girls and women have been forced into child marriage, according to a UNICEF report. (SOURCE: EUROPA PRESS)
12 million girls suffer from it every year
This study estimates that 12 million girls suffer child marriage each year, a scourge that is still very present in some contexts even though, overall, it seems to be steadily decreasing.
Although the percentage is going down, it is very slow
The percentage of young people who married as children has fallen from 21 percent to 19 percent in five years, but the UN estimates that, if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be met by 2030, the rate should be 20 times higher.
Life-long negative consequences
Those who experience child marriage suffer immediate and lifelong consequences, as they are at greater risk of dropping out of school and becoming pregnant prematurely, which in turn can isolate girls from families and communities and increase the likelihood of psychological and physical complications.
It would take 200 years to eliminate this problem.
The slowdown in eradicating this problematic dynamic is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa, to the point where it will take more than 200 years to end child marriage, while Latin America is on track to record the second worst level by area this year.
In some regions the percentage is decreasing at a faster pace
On the opposite side is South Asia, which despite accounting for 45 percent of married girls, also leads the decline in the practice and may reach zero in about 55 years.
Young women at risk of exclusion are most affected
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell warned that in a world «mired in one crisis after another,» the hopes and dreams of vulnerable children, especially girls, who should be students, not wives, are being «shattered.» Conflict, climate disruption and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic all contribute to this, according to the report.
Crises exacerbate this problem
«The economic and health crises, escalating armed conflicts and the devastating effects of climate change are forcing families to seek a false sense of security in child marriage,» Russell has warned in a statement.
More support is needed
To eradicate child marriage, «it is necessary to continue to provide constant support to girls and vulnerable families.»
A global problem
Girls living in environments considered fragile are twice as likely to marry, while every tenfold increase in conflict-related deaths results in a 7 percent increase in child marriages.