Child marriage is deeply embedded in cultural traditions, which can be difficult to change. Girls who marry as children are often more susceptible to the health risks associated with early sexual initiation and childbearing, including HIV and obstetric fistula. Lacking status and power, these girls are often subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse and social isolation. Furthermore, early marriage almost always deprives girls of their education or meaningful work, which contributes to persistent poverty.
Early marriage inevitably denies children of school age their right to the education they need for their personal development, their preparation for adulthood, and their effective contribution to the future wellbeing of their family and society. Indeed, married girls who would like to continue schooling may be both practically and legally excluded from doing so.
Poverty is one of the major factors underpinning early marriage. Where poverty is acute, a young girl may be regarded as an economic burden and her marriage to a much older — sometimes even elderly — man
The notion of good reproductive health covers all aspects of the reproduction the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if and when to bear a child. The right not to engage in sexual relations and the right to exercise control over reproduction may both be violated by early marriage
Teenage girls are also more susceptible than more mature women to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. This is the result of both biological factors and social factors, such as skewed power relations between women and men that make it difficult for girls and young women to negotiate safe sex. STIs can lead to infertility, and in the case of HIV, the outcome is premature mortality and risks of transmission to the foetus
Pregnancy and childbirth
The risks of early pregnancy and childbirth are well documented. Increased risk of dying, increased risk of premature labour, complications during delivery, low birth-weight, and a higher chance that the newborn will not survive. Pregnancy-related deaths are the leading cause of mortality for 15-19 year-old girls (married and unmarried) worldwide. Mothers in this age group face a 20 to 200 per cent greater chance of dying in pregnancy than women aged 20 to 24. Those under age 15 are five times as likely to die as women in their twenties.
Focusing on the social, economic and environmental costs to country that lack the resources to ensure a good quality of life for their rapidly growing populations. In this light, early marriage can be said to have profound social and economic consequences for society as a whole. These consequences are reinforced by the fact that the children of young and illiterate mothers tend to face the same cycle of childhood deprivation and damage experienced by their mothers.
[Editor’s Note: The text above has been taken from two sites, UNICEF]
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