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PROGRESS FOR CHILDREN: A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN STATISTICAL REVIEW View Previous Editions>

Child marriage

Child marriage

World Fit for Children target: End harmful traditional or customary practices, such as early and forced marriage [...] which violate the rights of children and women

Worldwide, more than 60 million women aged 20–24 were married before they reached the age of 18. The extent of child marriage varies substantially between countries, but about half of the girls who are affected live in South Asia.

Child marriage is a violation of child rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in premature pregnancy and social isolation. Child marriage is becoming less common overall, but the pace of change is slow. In 34 of the 55 countries with comparable data from two recent surveys, there has been no significant change in the percentage of women aged 20–24 married by 18 – and only 5 countries experienced a decrease of more than 10 per cent.

 

45 PER CENT OF WOMEN AGED 20–24 IN SOUTH ASIA, 40 PER CENT IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, WERE MARRIED AS CHILDREN

Percentage of women aged 20–24 who were married or in union before age 18, by region (1987–2006)

 

MORE THAN 60 PER CENT OF WOMEN WERE MARRIED BEFORE THEY REACHED THE AGE OF 18 IN FIVE COUNTRIES OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND IN BANGLADESH

Percentage of women aged 20–24 who were married or in union before age 18 (1987–2006)

 

CHILD MARRIAGE IS MORE LIKELY IN POOR HOUSEHOLDS THAN IN RICH HOUSEHOLDS

Percentage of women aged 20–24 who were married or in union before age 18, by wealth index quintile (1987–2006)

 

MORE THAN 60 MILLION CHILD BRIDES

Number of women aged 20–24 who were married or in union before age 18, by region (2006)

 

Source for figures on this page: UNICEF global databases, 2007, based on MICS, DHS and other national surveys, 1987–2006.