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Child marriage

In some countries in the world child marriage is a 'normal' phenomenon. In Bangladesh, for example, 17 percent of girls marry before they are 15. The majority of married girls in Bangladesh have two children before they are eighteen years old. Child marriage is also common in East Africa. Traditions play an important role. Very young girls are forced to marry older men.

Overstromingen Bangladesh dwingen ouders tot uithuwelijken van dochters Terre des Hommes kindbruiden
Overstromingen Bangladesh dwingen ouders tot uithuwelijken van dochters

14.2 million child brides  

Annually there are an estimated 14.2 million girls who are victims of child marriage. The causes are complex, but usually have to do with poverty and lack of education. Traditions and beliefs about the role of girls in society also contribute.


Consequences of child marriage

Child marriage and teenage pregnancy often mean that girls no longer attend school. In addition, the girls suffer mentally and physically in the marriage. Many girls suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress. Pregnancy for girls in East African countries is a major cause of death because their bodies are still growing and are not yet ready to have a baby. Additionally they also run a high risk of being infected with HIV. Because in many countries it is still a big taboo to talk about these subjects, girls often do not seek help.

Where does child marriage occur?

In countries such as Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan child marriage is most common: young girls who are married off become completely dependent on their husband and get pregnant before their bodies are fully grown. These young girls often get no medical care during pregnancy. Often the baby is stillborn or the very young mother dies. Child Marriage does not only occur in South Asia (46%), but also in sub-Saharan Africa (37%) , Latin America and the Caribbean.

Tackling child marriage

  • We conduct political lobbying to raise the minimum legal marriage  age 
  • We encourage girls to (continue to) pursue an education and provide them with skills training 
  • We provide information about the dangers of child marriage and encourage girls to participate in girls’ clubs to empower them
  • In Bangladesh, we launched a unique project where child brides are given a voice to enable them to get out of their dire circumstances

Within these programs we fight against child marriage


IMAGE: Empowering early married girls in India

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Girls Advocacy Alliance

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Much more

But we do much more. We fight against child trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. We also offer emergency aid. Read more about what we do

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