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Millennium Development Goals|Child Marriage

Child Marriage and the Millennium Development Goals As the 2015 deadline for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, governments and development partners are recognizing that tackling the issue of child marriage will help many countries to close the gap in progress towards the Goals.

Measuring Child Marriage

The incidence and prevalence of child marriage is analysed and reported in a variety of ways. A 2012 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides evidence that “Nearly one in every four adolescent girls aged 15-19 in the developing world (excluding China) is currently married or in union.” The report goes on to say that “More than one third of women aged 20-24 in the developing world were married by age 18…..” 25 Although both estimates approximate the extent of child marriage, it is also true that the indicators provide different information.

Child Marriage: A Violation of Human Rights & Deterrent To Development

Child marriage violates girls’ rights and it does so in a number of ways. It effectively brings a girl’s childhood and adolescence to a premature and unnatural end by imposing adult roles and responsibilities before she is physically, psychologically and emotionally prepared. It is not uncommon for marriage to impose social isolation on girls bringing unwanted separation from their friends and family. Often child marriage brings an end to a girl’s chance of continued education.

Child Marriage

Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. Many factors interact to place a girl at risk of marriage, including poverty, the perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’, family honour, social norms, customary or religious laws that condone the practice, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country’s civil registration system.

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