Child Marriage: Understanding the Global Crisis and its Devastating Effects

Child Marriage: Understanding the Global Crisis and its Devastating Effects


Child marriage is a grave violation of human rights that affects millions of girls worldwide. It is a harmful practice with devastating consequences for the well-being and development of these young girls. This article aims to shed light on the global crisis of child marriage, the reasons behind its perpetuation, and its far-reaching effects.

1. The Prevalence of Child Marriage:

Child marriage is a widespread issue, affecting numerous countries across the globe. According to UNICEF, approximately 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 each year. This equates to nearly 23 girls being married every minute. Although child marriage affects both girls and boys, girls are disproportionately affected, accounting for 82% of all child marriages.

2. Causes and Contributing Factors:

Various factors contribute to the persistence of child marriage. These include:

– Poverty: Families living in poverty often see child marriage as a way to alleviate their economic burden. Marrying their daughters at an early age is seen as a means of reducing expenses and gaining financial security.

– Gender Inequality: Societies that perpetuate gender inequality often view girls as inferior to boys. Child marriage is seen as a way to limit a girl’s potential and control her sexuality, reinforcing harmful gender norms.

– Lack of Education: Limited access to quality education hinders awareness and understanding of the negative consequences of child marriage. Illiterate families may view marriage as a viable option for their daughters, thereby perpetuating the cycle.

– Tradition and Culture: In certain communities, child marriage is deeply rooted in tradition and cultural practices. Although traditions evolve over time, outdated customs still perpetuate child marriage.

3. Devastating Effects:

Child marriages have far-reaching negative consequences for the individuals involved and society as a whole. Some of the devastating effects include:

– Health Risks: Early pregnancies expose young girls to greater health risks, as their bodies are not fully developed. They are more likely to experience complications during childbirth and face a higher risk of maternal mortality.

– Education and Economic Opportunities: Child marriage often forces girls to drop out of school, denying them the opportunity to gain an education and pursue a career. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty and limits their economic potential.

– Psychological and Emotional Impact: Marrying at a young age can cause significant emotional distress and psychological trauma. These girls are ill-prepared for the responsibilities of marriage and often face abuse and exploitation.

– Cycle of Violence: Child brides are more susceptible to domestic violence and sexual abuse. They are often married to older men who exert control over them, amplifying power imbalances within the relationship.

– Population Growth: Child marriage contributes to population growth by increasing the number of children born to young mothers. This can strain healthcare and social welfare systems, hindering sustainable development.

4. Global Initiatives and Efforts:

Numerous global initiatives and organizations are working tirelessly to address and eradicate child marriage. Organizations like Girls Not Brides, UNICEF, UNFPA, and Plan International are actively involved in raising awareness, advocating for policy changes, and implementing programs to assist child brides and prevent future marriages.

While progress has been made, it is crucial to continue these efforts and mobilize resources to accelerate the decline of child marriage globally. Governments, civil society organizations, and individuals must work together to address the root causes of child marriage and protect the rights of all children.


Q: Is child marriage legal?
A: Child marriage is illegal in many countries, but it continues to occur due to weak enforcement and cultural acceptance.

Q: Which countries have the highest rates of child marriage?
A: Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East have some of the highest rates of child marriage.

Q: What are the health risks associated with child marriage?
A: Child brides face numerous health risks, including early pregnancies, maternal mortality, malnutrition, and sexually transmitted infections.

Q: How can child marriage be prevented?
A: Preventing child marriage involves multiple strategies, such as increasing access to education, empowering girls, raising awareness, enforcing laws, and providing support services.

Q: How can individuals contribute to ending child marriage?
A: Individuals can contribute by supporting organizations working to end child marriage, raising awareness, and advocating for policy changes at local, national, and international levels.


Child marriage is a global crisis with devastating effects on millions of girls worldwide. It is crucial to understand the underlying causes and pervasive consequences of this harmful practice in order to prevent and eradicate it. By addressing poverty, gender inequality, lack of education, and cultural norms, we can work towards a future where every child’s rights are protected, and they have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

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In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married

Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18

That is 23 girls every minute

Nearly 1 every 2 seconds





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In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married

Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18

That is 23 girls every minute

Nearly 1 every 2 seconds




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