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Idea of the Day: How to Help Child Brides in the Developing World

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Some of the numbers on child brides are eye popping. In Niger, 75 percent of girls are married before their 18th birthdays, and 36 percent of them are married before their 15th birthdays. In Chad, Bangladesh, and Guinea, more than 60 percent of girls are married before age 18. According to UNICEF, some 14 million girls are child brides every year.

The human implications of these almost medieval marriage practices around the globe are appalling. Such early marriage casts young girls into enormous peril, leaving them far more at risk of violence and abuse and often ending their hopes for education or better lives. For many young girls, child marriage is tantamount to life-threatening health risks, including exposure to HIV/AIDS. Do you think a poor, 16-year-old girl will have much luck demanding that her older husband wear a condom? In places such as Niger, forced child marriage increasingly resembles sex trafficking, with desperately poor families often essentially selling their young daughters to men from nearby countries. Indeed, the drought and food crisis that has gripped much of the Sahel in recent years has sparked concerns that child marriage will accelerate in the region as families are forced into ever more dire straits.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi (immigration, race and ethnicity)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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