Statistics on Child Marriage

Content

1. Prevalence of child marriage
2. Geographical breakdown
3. Income breakdown
4. Legislation
5. Effects of child marriage
6. Rationalization of child marriage

1. Prevalence of child marriage

The practice of child marriage has gradually diminished over the years, but is still widespread in many parts of the world. In the developing world, 36 per cent of women aged 20-24 report that they were married or in union before they reached 18 years of age (source). More than 60% of women were married before they reached the age of 18 in five countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and in Bangladesh. In Niger, which has the highest rate of child marriage in the world, one in three girls is married before the age of 15, and 75 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 are married before age 18. In India, 44,5% of girls are married before the age of 18. Globally, around one in 10 girls in the world being married before the age of 15.

In absolute numbers:

child marriage

(source)

Overall, more than 60 million women aged 20-24 were married or in union before age 18. Every day, 37,000 girls are married before age 18, and often much younger. Each year, more than 10 million children are forced into marriage.

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2. Geographical breakdown

Some more data on the geographical breakdown. Here’s a map showing the geographical distribution of the percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union before age 18 (1987-2006):

child marriage

child marriage map

(source, click image to enlarge)

child marriage

(source)

Here are some numbers in millions of child brides:

child marriage

Number of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union before age 18, by region (2006)

(source)
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3. Income breakdown

Child marriage is more prevalent among the poorer sections of societies:

child marriage 2

(source)
child marriage

Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union before age 18, by wealth index quintile (1987-2006)

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4. Legislation

In 50 countries, the minimum legal age of marriage is lower for females than for men (source). However, it seems that the law can also work the other way and discourage child marriage:

laws on age of marriage and incidence of early marriage

(source, click image to enlarge)

Or perhaps the causation goes the other way: countries where customs discourage early marriage also adopt laws stipulating a high minimum marriage age. In general, we shouldn’t be too optimistic about the power of legislation.

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5. Effects of child marriage

Child marriage is obviously a case of sexual abuse and pedophilia, at least when the husband is an adult – which tends to be the case. Apart from the psychological harm that results from this abuse, there’s often physical harm as well. When girls are having babies before their bodies are mature enough, they are at risk of death from hemorrhaging, obstructed labor and other complications. 7.3 million children are born to mothers under 18, of which 2 million are born to mothers under 15.

About 19 percent of young women in developing countries give birth before they are eighteen. Of those births, 90 percent occur within marriages. … In Niger for example, 51 percent of girls give birth before they are eighteen. In Zimbabwe it is 20 percent. Indeed out of forty countries that report more than 20 percent of girls giving birth before eighteen, 70 percent are in Africa. (source)

In countries where child marriage is common – such as Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique and Niger – one girl in 10 has a child before the age of 15. (source)

adolescent birth rate

(source)

Another negative effect of early marriage is the exclusion of women from education in favor of domestic work and child rearing. So countries with a high prevalence of child marriages also tend to have low literacy and schooling rates for young women:

correlation between adolescent fertility rates and education

correlation between adolescent fertility rates and education

(source)

Low schooling rates for girls can have a knock-on effect on gender equality in later life. Here’s a ranking of countries by prevalence of child marriage linked to literacy rates:

child marriage statistics

(source)

More on children’s rights.

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6. Rationalization of child marriage

Child marriage is supposedly necessary or unavoidable in poor societies. It’s a way to deliver the girl from hunger and to ward off famine for the rest of the family. Families sell off their daughters in order to settle debts, assuage disputes and forge communal relationships. Fathers with gambling problems can use their daughters in lieu of money to pay their debts. Among the leading classes, child marriage is also a tool in political manoeuvering.

In many cultures, men want to marry virgins and parents prefer to yield their daughters before misbehavior or abduction has brought the family shame and made any wedding impossible.

The custom of child marriage often occurs in tandem with polygamy. And polygamy is in turn rationalized by way of the claim that poor countries require large families with a lot of female members who can work the land. Since pregnant women, women who have to take care of children or old women can’t work the land as well as young girls, the latter should be allowed to marry.

It goes without saying that none of these rationalizations are acceptable.

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15 thoughts on “Statistics on Child Marriage

  1. Pingback: Human Rights Maps (59): Child Marriage « P.A.P. Blog – Politics, Art and Philosophy

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  3. RISHAD ABDUL RASHEED says:

    I thing child marriage mostly occurs due to poverty ,insecurity,fear, dowry system , iletrecy, and many other aspects ! if we try to eradicate one by one then only child marraige will decrease in our society!

  4. shakira says:

    i think mostly peoples prefer child marriage bcz they think that when a girl is married off she is protected evils like rape and causal sex.

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  6. surapa raju says:

    No doubt, the child marriages have gradually come down in recent years. But still most of the poor communities have been performing the child marriages to their children at a large numbers. The main causes for this are (i) poverty and (ii) occupation. For example in fishing communities, parents of the boys forced the boys to discontinue their studies and send them to fishing at the age of 13 or 14. At the age of 16, he earns money by going to various places (migrated to other places for fishing). There is a possibility of entering into illegal activities at the migrated place as there is no control and supervision. To avoid this, parents perform early marriage to their boys. Naturally most of the parents prefer to marry their sons with less aged girl ( less than 16 years, if boys age 16) so we have to look into the child marriages with their occupation.

  7. Roystan Crossley says:

    No there is something you see every day in such area of sick dominance & life/youth stealing. On wondering as how , where , when , is this justified as she being 92 and she 22 , but the sicker it gets is when ages of 3 onwards are considered brides or merely toys for pleasure and ego , where in other countries such as Pakistan , a 17 year old was chained to a bed and used for prostitution by her own mother , a wife was sold for goat (yes for goats) killing of about 1200 new born baby girls killed in barbaric manners & at times thrown in rubbish bins alive to be eaten by wild animals just because of the child being illegal or being female , acid scaring , raping of toddlers 7 children below ages of 12 , child brides , sold for prostitution & porn movies to other countries , young boys being used for sex the same boys trained for dancing (at times killed) , a young girl raped for refusing to convert her religion , young boys aged 6,7,8,9 & 14 used as suicide bombers , young girls aged 7 , 10 , 12 sold or forced to get married either raped , used for prostitution , children chained in basements like animals , according to a Pakistani model , clerics raping children who they were suppose to teach , & reports even exposing sexual crimes in European countries against young girls where they are seduced , lured & end is rape , sex-drugs or prostitution are just common walks of life in countries like Pakistan and being documented by well known reporters , journalists and channels (news agencies) Yet on the other hand where many show Conservative it’s not where in the elite societies where there are sex shops in Pakistan , night life dancing & booze (whiskey) is consumed heavily even drunk by party girls who dance in shows (mujra) disco parties (as party animals) & girls hired for dancing in bachelor & other parties not to mention transgender. Girls killed in honor and attacked by acid being thrown on the face is yet another common practice, & DVD stores flooded with porn movies & massage parlors, prostitution dens, & not even leave out the gays where there were two cases of Lesbians in Pakistan where 1 lesbian couple fled from the country in fright of getting killed & another in a place called Faisalabad where there were some kind of lesbian case. Girls under 10 are raped and killed even kidnapped , boys being raped , Honor killings some raped by their uncle and fathers and made pregnant as well where in a case the father rapes his daughter and poisons her to death http://www.defence.pk/forums/seniors-cafe/256271-rape-incidents-pakistan-9.html http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/09/11/news/national/divorced-girl-accuses-father-of-rape/ http://ibnlive.in.com/news/man-rapes-daughter-poisons-her-to-death-in-pakistans-punjab/397414-56.html http://www.punjaboutlook.com/pakistan-father-rapes-daughter-poisoned-her-to-death/ , . All this shows frustration, ignorance, 7 more over the “it’s ok to do it” attitude. Girls are even cut up to pieces and put in different parts of the city & a mind blowing case of a guy raping close to 47 dead bodies of girls in a graveyard in Pakistan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HAnwSLBYXM . Apart from this being blood thirsty is just ok again “chill” you daughter runs away “kill her” , 2 sisters played in the rain and took out photos of each other were both shot dead by their brother , underage pregnancy , deep secretive minds searching violent sex (force,beating,rape,crying,torture) is even common. Why so much frustration?? Why so much kinky lust?? Couples exposed in internet cafes in Pakistan, dating full swing. Camouflaged or merely wolves in sheep clothing , Taboo societies and practices , hidden behind walls and walls various projections such as false innocence but at the end of the day , the kink , lust for underage girls & at times boys , violence against women all in various forms and styles are practiced in places where hidden breeds lurk in the darkness not only in the streets by the Minds. (Roystan Crossley)

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