Forced and early marriage

Support education of girls and families, and help communities and local authorities prevent forced and early marriage.

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What we're doing

We work with communities to break down the inequitable systems and beliefs that force women and girls into marriage

Our goal

Prevention through inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030

Forced and early marriage denies basic freedom

Forced and early marriage is a fundamental abuse of human rights. Every day around the world, women and girls are forced to marry against their will. When a girl is forced into marriage she is subject to sexual and emotional abuse, and her childhood is violated.

Early marriage seriously harms the development and wellbeing of girls, through limited education and employment opportunities, social isolation, domestic violence and rape. Girls are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and early pregnancy. Young girls are not physically mature enough to give birth, which puts both mother and baby at risk. The leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 is pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Early marriage also impacts future generations. A child born to an educated mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past age five . And they’re twice as likely to go to school.

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Child brides worldwide

13.5

million girls

Every year, 13.5 million girls marry before their 18th birthday – that’s nearly two thirds of Australia’s population (UNFPA)

1 in 9

girls

One in nine girls marries before they turn 15 (UNFPA)

50%

in Asia

Almost half of all child brides live in South Asia – one third of these are in India (UNICEF)

It’s illegal, but it still happens

Early marriage is illegal in almost every country in the world. However early marriage laws are rarely enforced in many countries, and families and girls are often unaware these laws exist.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, forced and early marriage denies children their right to protection from harmful practices, abuse and exploitation, and takes away their right to develop to their fullest. Most countries have ratified this convention, however the age of consent varies and is often below the UN recommended age of 18.

While the practice of early marriage is slowly declining, cultural acceptance, poverty and gender discrimination mean that it remains widespread in many parts of the world. Early marriage is most common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In Niger, 77 percent of girls are married before they turn 18. In Bangladesh, nearly 40 percent of girls are married before their 15th birthday.

Young girls in Uganda are denied a childhood when they are married and pregnant before they turn 18.

We work to prevent forced and early marriage.

World Vision invests in girls by promoting their education and raising awareness about the dangers of early marriage. We know that working together with families, communities and governments can reverse the global trend of forced and early marriage.

We work with families to educate parents on treating girls and boys equally. We help strengthen local child protection groups to alert, monitor and respond to cases of early marriage. And we help local authorities to improve laws and policies to reduce cases of forced and early marriage.

Our work also sees children driving change themselves. In Africa and Asia, children’s committees keep an eye out for other children who have missed school. This has prevented instances of forced and early marriage as the children report back to the community when they believe another child is at risk.

Send a girl to school Education is vital for a better future. Help provide education for a girl so she can finish school and then earn a living.

Education is vital in preventing early marriage

Educate a girl and change her world.

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