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What is the impact of Child Marriage:

Violence against girls

Key Information

50%

Globally, girls who marry before 15 are 50% more likely to face physical or sexual violence from a partner.

50%

In Bangladesh, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, around half of married girls age 15-19 have faced violence by their husbands or partners.

10%

Ending child marriage would reduce intimate partner violence by more than 10% in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

14-year-old Janet and her husband in the background. Photo credit: Rebecca Vassie / Girls Not Brides.

Key Information

50%

Globally, girls who marry before 15 are 50% more likely to face physical or sexual violence from a partner.

50%

In Bangladesh, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, around half of married girls age 15-19 have faced violence by their husbands or partners.

10%

Ending child marriage would reduce intimate partner violence by more than 10% in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

Child marriage puts girls at risk of violence throughout their lives

Child marriage is a form of violence which disproportionally affects girls. One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime.

While parents often marry their daughters as a way to protect them from harm, this belief is mistaken. Child marriage expose girls to intimate partner violence, including sexual, physical, psychological and emotional violence.

Research suggests that ending child marriage would reduce intimate partner violence by more than 10% in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

Child marriage and physical violence

Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner throughout their life. The greater the age difference with their husbands, the more likely they are to experience violence.

Globally, girls who marry before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner than girls who married after 18.

Child brides are also more likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife. Globally, 44% of girls aged 15-19 think a husband or partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner.

Child marriage and sexual violence

Child brides are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. Due to the age difference and the power dynamics, they often struggle to assert their wishes to their husbands or negotiate safe and consensual sex.

Child brides are more likely to contract HIV. In Uganda, the HIV prevalence rate for girls 15-19 is higher for married girls (89%) than unmarried girls (66%).

Child marriage and psychological violence

Child brides are often under a lot of pressure from their husbands and families, keeping them from making their own decisions about their lives and bodies.

Sexual violence and early pregnancy also have lasting effects on girls’ mental health. In the United States, women who were child brides were three times more likely to develop an antisocial personality disorder than those who married as adults.

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Sources

Featured

  • Rachel Kidman, Using global data to examine child marriage, IPV and legal protection, Stony Brook Medicine, Program in Public Health, 2017
  • UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, 2014
  • World Bank and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Brief, 2017

Child marriage puts girls at risk of violence throughout their lives

  • World Bank and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Brief, 2017.

Physical violence

  • UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, 2014.

Sexual violence

  • World Bank, Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity, 2014

Child marriage and psychological violence

  • Yann Le Strat, Caroline Dubertret, Bernard Le Foll, Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women. Pediatrics Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011