Africa

Child marriage kills over 60 girls a day

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Child marriage kills over 60 girls a day

Childbirth is the number one killer of teenage girls because their young bodies are not ready to bear children

FAIRFIELD, United States of America, October 11, 2021 / APO Group / –

It is estimated that more than 22,000 girls die each year as a result of pregnancy and childbirth resulting from an early marriage, reveals a new analysis from Save the Children released on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl.

With the highest rate of child marriage in the world, West and Central Africa accounts for almost half (9,600) of all estimated child marriage deaths globally, or 26 deaths per day. In addition, the regional teenage maternal mortality rate is four times higher than anywhere else in the world.

South Asia records 2,000 child marriage-related deaths each year (or six per day), followed by East Asia and the Pacific with 650 deaths (or two per day) and Latin America and the Caribbean, with 560 annual deaths (or nearly two a day).

Although nearly 80 million child marriages worldwide have been prevented in the past 25 years, progress stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which only deepened the inequalities that promote child marriage. With school closures, health services strained or shut down, and more families plunged into poverty, women and girls face an increased risk of violence during long periods of confinement. An additional 10 million girls are now expected to marry by 2030,[1] leaving more girls at risk of dying.

Save the Children CEO Janti Soeripto said: “Child marriage is one of the most serious and deadly forms of sexual and gender-based violence against girls. Each year, millions of people are forced to marry men who are often much older, denying them the opportunity to continue learning, to be children and, in many cases, to survive.

“Childbirth is the number one killer of adolescent girls because their young bodies are not ready to bear children. The health risks of children with children cannot and should not be ignored. Governments must prioritize girls and ensure that they are protected from child marriage and premature childbirth-related deaths. This can only happen if girls have a say in decisions that affect them. “

Gender inequality continues to fuel child marriage, as revealed in a national report from Save the Children in Nigeria, The state of Nigerian girls: An incisive diagnostic of child, early and forced wedding in Nigeria. According to a survey conducted by the organization, the belief that children born to young mothers are healthier and smarter is prevalent in many communities. There is also a common perception that younger girls “refresh” older men with their “younger blood”.

Even in countries where child marriage is illegal, exceptions are common and the practice is still widespread, including in Burkina Faso, which has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

Viviane *, now 23, was promised at birth to her husband and was forced to marry him when she was only 12 years old. She said:

“My husband was 54 and already had four wives. I wanted to continue studying, so I decided to escape. I was caught and brought back to live with him, so I tried again. I walked 25 miles, managed to get on a bus, and eventually ended up in a center that supports young brides like me. I am now studying math and training to be a nurse while coaching other young girls on the importance of getting an education.

In a global report released today by Save the Children, Global Girlhood Report 2021: Girls’ rights in crisis, the organization calls on governments to:

Make girls’ voices heard by supporting their right to safe and meaningful participation in all public decisions. Address the immediate and ongoing risks of gender-based violence, including child marriage, by placing girls’ rights and gender equality at the center of COVID-19 and humanitarian responses, development policy, and broader efforts to better progress. Guarantee the rights of all girls, including those affected by different forms of inequality and discrimination (including on the basis of gender, race, disability, economic background, etc.), by developing policies and inclusive programs. Safe and ethical data collection must also be improved to better understand and respond in real time to the impact of COVID-19 on economic, climate and conflict-related crises. Ensure the safe and unrestricted participation of female humanitarian workers in all humanitarian response efforts, including needs assessments and the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all humanitarian services at all levels. Join the Generation Equality movement, which works to achieve the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, which sets a goal of preventing nine million child marriages in five years.

* The name has been changed to protect the identity of the child marriage survivor.

[i] COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage – UNICEF DATA

[ii] This source has been used for a minority of countries and is not age specific. Lancet data was replaced with DHS Stat Compiler data when the latter had a lower value than the former.

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