Sunday, 19 August, 2018

'25 million child marriages prevented in last decade due to accelerated progress'

Children hold placards with anti-child marriage slogans. Worldwide an estimated 650 million women alive today were married as children Children hold placards with anti-child marriage slogans. Worldwide an estimated 650 million women alive today were married as children
Melinda Barton | 07 March, 2018, 20:19

Nearly 15% fewer girls get married before they turn 18 now than they did a decade ago, "in large part" due to progress in India, the United Nations Children's Fund said on Tuesday.

The South Asian country of Bangladesh has a rate of 59 percent. Overall, the proportion of women who were married before the age of 18 dropped from one in four to approximately one in five in the past decade. This has been made possible thanks to a range of initiatives, Increasing rates of girls' education, proactive government investments in adolescent girls, and strong public messaging around the illegality of child marriage. "There are also huge societal consequences and a higher risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty", said Anju Malhotra, UNICEF's Principal Gender Advisor.

UNICEF has taken into account the necessity of accelerating the efforts to end child marriage completely by 2030.

Among the Sustainable Development Goals is the elimination of child marriage by the year 2030, in that sense Unicef warns that further action is needed in order to achieve that goal.

According to the new data, the total number of girls across the globe married in childhood is now estimated at 12 million a year.

"We're going to have to collectively redouble efforts to prevent millions of girls from having their childhoods stolen through this devastating practice", she said.

Estimates of the global and regional prevalence of child marriage are calculated on the basis of national estimates in the UNICEF global databases, comprised of nationally representative data from over 100 countries.

Child marriage can lead to a lifetime of suffering.

Child marriage - marriage before the age of 18 - is a human rights violation.

"Though under the law, the age of marriage for girls is 18 and for boys, it is 21, marriages of minors are still valid marriages".

The UN population agency said even in places where child marriage was clearly illegal, enforcement could be a problem.

Young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s, and their children are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.

Yet around the world, there are national or local laws that enable different interpretations of the agreed principle - many countries permit exceptions with parental consent or under customary law, UNFPA noted. "It violates bodily integrity of the girl child", the ruling said.