During the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women - 25 November to 10 December, Girls Not Brides will be highlighting the link between violence and child marriage. During that time, the UN are asking people to #OrangeTheWorld to show their solidarity against violence. We will be turning our home page orange in support and will showcase a fact related to gender-based violence each day.
Share our messaging through Twitter, and check back here daily for new facts during the 16 days of activism.
- Empowering girls by investing in their education, participation, and well-being so that they can make informed choices and fulfil their potential.
- Cultural, religious, social and traditional norms, values and practices lead to 15 million girls under 18 getting married each year. Many of these norms have led 44% of 15-19-year-old girls to believe that being hit by their husband is justified. Working with communities is vital to changing mind-sets.
- Unequal power dynamics between child brides and their husbands lead to a continuum of rights violations, which harm girls across their lifetime. Shelters for at risk girls, and psychological support for child brides enables girls to have a safe outlet.
- Contexts such as war and conflict lead to an increase in child marriage. As child marriage numbers rise so do the levels of violence experienced by child brides at the hands of their partners. Creating political and economic stability is vital to reduce these numbers.
- The health of girls who marry early is often compromised. Complications in pregnancy and child birth is the second highest cause of death in girls between 15-19. Girls married young are also at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. For instance, in Uganda, one study found that 89% of married girls between 15-19 had HIV, whilst 66% unmarried girls had it. Greater information and awareness of sex and reproductive health and contraception is needed.
- Successfully implementing laws and policies are essential to ending child marriage and other forms of GBV. Where laws exist and are violated, girls need access to justice through legal-aid and paralegal professionals.
- Leadership from respected individuals focusing on the positive outcomes of ending child marriage is needed in the community, schools, health facilities, parliament, and across government to effectively bring child marriage to an end.
- Difference in age between girls and their husbands; the greater the age gap, the greater the likelihood of the girl experiencing intimate partner violence. Life skills and empowerment programmes for women and girls will enable women to see an alternative future for their daughters, and for daughters to see an alternative future for themselves.
- Mobilising families and communities to act can reduce the number of child marriages. Girls are more likely to speak out about their situation if the community and/or their family are supportive.
- Traditional attitudes towards girls and women often perpetuate a cycle of violence; abuse is seen as the norm even where laws banning child marriage are in place. Changing attitudes is an important part of ending the cycle of gender based violence and child marriage.
- Registering births and marriages helps prevent child marriage by proving the age of the girl and her partner. Men are less likely to marry a girl below 18 if there is a high risk of being arrested/prosecuted.
- Girls knowing and exercising their rights is important in protecting them from child marriage and the possibility of gender-based violence. Initiatives aimed at empowering girls are essential in helping girls claim their rights.
- The increasing interest and awareness about child marriage means that the time is right for countries to politically and financially commit to protecting girls and to creating positive change in communities.
- Activists across the world are needed to stand up against child marriage within their local communities and develop culturally aware strategies to address and end this harmful practice.
- Generationally engrained practices have enabled gender-based violence to continue through generations. Educating today’s children will lead to future generations adopting an alternative outlook on violence against girls and women.
- Engaging men and boys in the conversation about child marriage is vital if we are to end this harmful practice and the huge negative impact it has on young lives. By standing up against child marriage men and boys are providing positive role models.
In the time it has taken to read this article 43 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 3 seconds