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 ten are being married – often to much older men – in countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia.
A new report released today 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 parliamentarians.
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 most basic rights to learn, develop and be children,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.
“Girls who marry too early often can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape. They fall pregnant and are exposed to STIs including HIV. They also bear children before their bodies are fully prepared, which can have devastating consequences on their and their baby’s health.”