- Many girls around the world (and, less often, young men) are married against their will before the age of 18.
- Early marriage is more common in rural areas than in urban areas.
- Girls who live in the poorest 20% of households are more likely to be married by the time they are 19 than those in the wealthiest 20%.
- Girls who receive higher education are less likely to be married before age 19 than girls who aren't in school.
- There are a variety of reasons why a family would decide to force a girl into early marriage: to ensure her own security (especially during unstable times), because they believe it's a matter of family honour, or because they receive goods or money in exchange.
- Young women (and, less often, men) who enter early marriages miss out on the chance for what Canadians would consider a normal childhood and adolescence.
- Early marriage can also mean forced sexual relations and restrictions on freedom, which in turn can cause depression or other psychological damage.
- Because a married girl cannot refuse sexual relations with her husband, she's at great risk of being infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
- Getting pregnant while still very young increases the risk of premature labour, complications during childbirth, and death of the newborn infant.
- Young married women are required to do a lot of domestic work and tend to have more children than those who marry later in life – which is not good for their health, nor the health of their children.
What is Plan doing?
- Working with partners to ensure that children are registered at birth. Without this, they can't prove their legal age, or claim protection under any legislation that exists in their country specifying a minimum age for marriage.
- Supporting youth-led groups that raise awareness about children's rights, including the right not to be forced into marriage at an early age.
- Supporting Children's Action Groups that work with community volunteers, legal systems, women's groups, community-based organizations and local government to promote the rights of children and women's groups, community-based organizations and local government to promote the rights of children
We will be featuring stories about how early marriage issues are affecting girls in different developing countries. The first country we are focusing on is Sudan.
We will be expanding this section with more stories about girls affected by early marriage issues in different parts of the developing world. Check back here often.
Help end early marriage for girls