Fifty-eight million young women in developing countries – one in three – have been married before the age of 18 in the last decade.
Many of these marriages were against the will of the girls and in violation of international laws and conventions on women’s rights.
More disturbing is one in nine girls aged between 10 and 14 years or 15 million have been forced into marriages thus condemning them to a life of poverty, social isolation and powerlessness and infringement on their human rights, health and well-being.
This was contained in the April, 2011 Policy Brief titled ‘Who speaks for me? Ending child marriage published by Population Reference Bureau of Washington D.C.
It said though child marriage was not limited to any one country or continent, 10 countries have particularly high prevalence rates with one-half to three-fourths of girls in those countries marrying before their 18th birthday.
It named those countries as Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh and Guinea.
The others are Central Africa Republic, Mozambique, Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia.
The Policy Brief said low level of education, poverty and religion were directly correlated with higher rates of child marriage.
It said child marriage undermined nearly every Millennium Development Goal and it was also an obstacle to eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal and child health.
It recommended the passing of legislations, developing policies and programmes based on risk factors, including multiple sectors in interventions, using behaviour change techniques to change community norms and addressing the needs of very young adolescent girls to curtail child marriage.