- Around 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
- Globally, girls married before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence than those married after 18.
Child marriage is a form of gender-based violence
Child marriage is internationally recognised in law as a form of gender-based violence. Both are human rights violations.
Child marriage puts girls and women at increased risk of sexual, physical, and psychological violence and related outcomes throughout their lives.
Gender-based violence – including child marriage – is also associated with poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes such as HIV infection, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, poor mental health, depression and loss of life by femicide or suicide. It can also lead to lower educational attainment and fewer economic and employment opportunities.
Girls who marry or enter informal unions before 18 are at increased risk of violence from their partners and their partners’ families. The greater the age difference between girls and their husbands, the more likely they are to experience intimate partner violence.
Levels of sexual and gender-based violence increase during and immediately after crises, as has been shown by the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more in our Child marriage in humanitarian contexts brief.
Prioritising girls’ agency and gender equality
We will only end child marriage if we address the root causes of gender-based violence. This means transforming patriarchal masculinities and dismantling stereotypical social norms that drive the abuse of girls’ rights and gender-based discrimination.
Explore the issue and find recommendations on how to enact these transformations on our Gender learning page and in our Child marriage and gender equality brief.
- Kidman, 2017, Child marriage and intimate partner violence: a comparative study of 34 countries, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 46, Issue 2, 1 April 2017, Pages 662–675
Ending child, early and forced marriage is crucial to gender equality
This advocacy brief explores and documents how gender equality issues, identified during the Beijing +25 process, link with child, early and forced marriage.
The impact of COVID-19 on women
This policy brief explores the differential impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in India.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on violence against women and girls
This paper presents the first findings regarding the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak response on gender-based violence in several contexts.
Child Marriage: a Form of Violence Against Children
Girls who are married before 18 are more likely to suffer from intimate partner violence, including sexual, physical, psychological and emotional violence.