Child brides face numerous risks, including higher rates of HIV/AIDS

According to this article from the Kaiser Network, a new report from World Vision, a leading Christian humanitarian organization, “has found that girls in developing countries who marry before age 18 — whose numbers are expected to double to 100 million in the next 10 years — are at an increased risk of HIV/AIDS.”

According to the report, young brides are forced to have sex before their bodies are ready, and few have access to reliable contraception and reproductive health information. The report added that “[f]orced sex causes skin and tissue damage that makes a female more susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted infections from her husband.”

World Vision’s 35-page report, titled “Before She’s Ready: 15 Places Girls Marry Before 15,” warns that young brides face a variety of dangers resulting from being forced to end their childhood and enter sexual relationships before they are finished physically or emotionally growing.

According to this Reuters article,

The number of girls in poor countries who marry before the age of 18 will double to 100 million in the next decade […]  A global food crisis is making matters worse by pushing more families in the developing world to send young daughters into marriage to deal with poverty. […]  An estimated 3,500 girls marry each day before their 15th birthday and another 21,000 do so before they are 18 — figures the humanitarian group said would balloon in coming years.

The World Vision Report (see chart on page 4) listed the following as the “countries where a girl is most likely to be married by age 15″:

  1. Bangladesh (52.5%)
  2. Niger (37.6%)
  3. Chad (34.9%)
  4. Ethiopia (31.4%)
  5. India (30.9%)
  6. Nigeria (30.6%)
  7. Mauritania (29.3%)
  8. Mali (25.1%)
  9. Guinea (23.5%)
  10. Mozambique (21.7%)
  11. Cameroon (20.1%)
  12. Eritrea (19.7%)
  13. Uganda (15.9%)
  14. Nepal (15.3%)
  15. Nicaragua (14.6%)

Here is an excerpt from the report’s Introduction: 

Picture the life of many a child bride. She is removed from her family and taken to live with a man who is rarely of her own age or choosing. Her husband and in-laws demand prompt and repeated childbearing, a task for which her body and mind may be unprepared. She is likely to experience early and forced sexual intercourse without protection, exposing her to potential injury and infection. In childbearing, she is more likely than a woman who marries later to experience complications, give birth to an underweight or stillborn baby or die. She must drop out of school, stunting her intellectual growth and often isolating her from peers.

Her future and the future of her children are compromised as cycles of poverty, illness and ignorance are perpetuated. The costs are borne at multiple levels: by families, communities, societies and nations.

While the practise of early marriage occurs worldwide, including in the world’s wealthy and developed nations, it is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and parts of Central America. It is most prevalent in communities and households where the starkest poverty mixes with cultural traditions and lack of education to limit a girl’s perceived value and potential.

In South Asia, nearly half of all girls marry before age 18. This average masks graver situations such as that in Nepal, where 7 percent of girls are married by age 10 and 40 percent by age 15. The rate is even higher in regions such as Rajasthan, India, where nearly seven of every 10 girls marry before the age of 18. Bangladesh has the highest rate of under-16 marriage: about half of the nation’s girls.



~ by h.e.g. on September 9, 2008.

One Response to “Child brides face numerous risks, including higher rates of HIV/AIDS”

  1. Present time, child marriage is a curse in the global society. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. In most cases young girls get married off to significantly older men when they are still children. Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in India, Niger, Bangladesh, Pakistan Guinea, Burkina Faso, Africa and Nepal,where mostly girls are married below the age of 18.
    Child marriage has its own worse effect on the young girls, society, her children and health. Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 11-13 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are
    twice as likely to die.

    The above is an extract from Arun Kumar essay “Child Marriage as an Human Rights Issue”. This essay was ranked among the top ten essay in Human Rights Defence’s Essay competition 2008. If you would like to read more, visit:

    Yours sincerely,

    Tomas Eric Nordlander

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