Child Marriage

An argument against Child Marriage

First Argument

1. Pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous for adolescent girls; most adolescent pregnancies take place within marriage.

2. Evidence: Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19 in low- and middle-income countries. 90% of adolescent pregnancies in the developing world are to girls who are already married.

Second Argument

1. Child marriage encourages the initiation of sexual activity at an age when girls’ bodies are still developing.

2. Evidence: Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Child brides are also vulnerable to obstetric fistula, a preventable yet debilitating injury resulting from obstructed labour or prolonged childbirth. 65% of all cases of obstetric fistula occur in girls under the age of 18.

Third Argument

1. Child brides are under intense social pressure to prove their fertility.

2. Evidence: Child brides often face pressure from their husband’s family, their own family and the wider community to have children soon after marriage. They become mothers at an early age, which makes them more likely to experience early and frequent pregnancies.

Fourth Argument

1. Child brides have little power to plan whether, when or how many children to have.

2. Evidence: It is very difficult to for child brides to assert their wishes with their often older husbands. It is hard for them to exercise their right to family planning and to choose when and whether to have children.

Fifth Argument

1. Reducing child marriage could accelerate our efforts to reduce maternal mortality.

2. Evidence: There are strong correlations between maternal mortality rates and child marriage prevalence rates. A 10 per cent reduction in child marriage could be associated with a 70 per cent reduction in a country’s maternal mortality rates.