Child Brides

Child Brides: A Humanitarian Crisis


Every two seconds a young girl is married.  That equals 25,000 thousand child brides married each and every day.  The numbers quickly add up.

Annually, an estimated 10-14 million girls under age 18 married and, of that number one in seven is married by age 15, with some brides but mere children at the tender ages 8 and 9.  All and all, there are more than 60 million child brides.

The highest rates of child brides are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  In Africa and globally, Nigeria has the highest incidence of child brides, with a full 75% of it is girls, married as children.  In Southeast Asia, India has the highest incidence of child brides, with 46% of its girls married before age 18; with a concentration of these marriages in poverty-stricken Bangladesh.

Child brides also come from Latin America, The Caribbean the Middle East and even Central Europe.

Child brides come from the poorest families who are unable to otherwise provide for themselves, their other children or their daughters.  Often they are ‘sold’ to their adult husbands.  A Mozambique girl is “only worth” $1-1,000.00, whereas an Iraqi girl might fetch a price of $2,500 to 5,000.00.

Girls under age 15 who are forced into marriage (or raped) and become pregnant are five more likely to die during the birthing process than a woman aged 20-24.

Their children are at risk too.  A baby born to teenager is 16 times more like to die during its first year of life, than a baby born to a young woman of 18 or older.

Child brides are more likely to be domestic violence victims.  Globally, a full one-half of all adolescent girls believe that a husband has the right to strike his wife in anger.

Child brides are more likely to develop HIV and other health related issues.


Child brides are removed from the educational process and, if called upon to do so, are left with no skills to support themselves or any children they may have.  It is no coincidence that the five African countries with the highest levels of child brides, Niger, Chad, Tanzania,Mozambique and Burkina Faso, also have the lowest rates of educated women.

On a macro level, permitting young girls to be married fetters the countries condoning this practice, all lacking any semblance of infrastructure, to a cycle of poverty.


Graca Marcal, Nelson Mandela’s surviving spouse and a co-founding member of The Elders, a nonpartisan peacekeeping group, has been a strong advocate opposing the incidence of child brides.  For more information, visit

Child brides violates the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Convention on the Rights of the Child, The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, The Protocol for the African Charter on Human, and The People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in African.

The Council of Foreign Relations has sponsored an informative video on the distressing issue of child brides.  To watch visit:

Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of over 400 civil society organisations spanning 60 countries, including UNICEF, is committed to ending child marriage. To learn more, visit:

You can also follow Girls Not Brides on Twitter at @GirlsNotBrides



Council on Foreign Relations, “Child Marriage” InfoGuide Presentation,” January 8, 2014, as found on the www at “(Child marriage remains widespread in developing countries, disproportionately affecting girls and endangering their lives and livelihoods. Rooted in cultural tradition and poverty, the practice not only violates human rights laws but also threatens stability and economic development…International conventions prohibit child marriage and define eighteen as the age of adulthood. These laws are based on the argument that children and adolescents are not mature enough to make choices about marriage, and that marrying too young can lead to lasting emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Moreover, development experts say child marriage stunts girls’ educational opportunities and income-earning prospects, and perpetuates poverty in communities worldwide, inhibiting progress toward national and global development goals and threatening stability. Delaying the age of marriage and investing in girls’ futures, they say, can have a multiplier effect that benefits the communities at large.”).

Beat, J., Mirror, as found on the www at (“terrified women captured by Islamic State are strangling each other or killing themselves to escape rape and torture as sex slaves.”).

Diehm, J., “1 In 9 Girls Marries Before Age 15, And Here’s What Happens To Them”. December 10, 2013, The Huffington Post, as found on the www at

Dicker, R., “ISIS Reportedly Releases Guide On How To Treat Sex Slaves”, December 14, 2014, The Huffington Post.

“Why Aren’t World Leaders Angrier About Violence Against Women?”, NPR, December 9, 2014, as found on the www at


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