At least 20,000 underage girls around the world are illegally married off every single day, according to a new research conducted jointly by the Save the Children charity and the World Bank.
The study found evidence that around 7.5 million underage girls are married off illegally every year, even in countries that have banned the practice. It was also found that nearly 100 million young girls worldwide are at a high risk of being married off, as they live in countries with no laws to protect them.
Both organizations on Wednesday called for every country to set the legal age for marriage at 18. Their request coincided with the International Day of The Girl Child, dubbed by the UN.
Report findings claim that the disconnect between national, customary, and religious laws helped to facilitate these marriages, according to the Independent. Many of the countries with the highest rates of child marriage are located in Central and West Africa, where cultural and religious ideology normalize the practice. In these regions 1.7 million girls below the national minimum age for marriage are married off each year.
Simona Sikimic-French, who has been working in Senegal with young girls who were forced into early marriages, told the Independent that some of these girls are as young as 12 years old.
“When you’re married off at such a young age, the impact is huge," she said. "As soon as you're married, you have to drop out of school. If you drop out of school aged 12 or 13 you just don’t really have any options."
“The younger you are the worse it is for your mental and physical health. If you have a baby younger, you risk a whole host of complications and issues which are difficult to fix. Often the babies also tend to be less healthy," she added.
Save the Children CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt said simply making new laws isn't going to solve this massive problem.
"Laws banning the practice are an important first step. But millions of vulnerable girls will continue to be at risk unless child marriage is tackled head-on,” she told Reuters.
The dangers of early marriages have not only socio-economic effects on societies but looming health threats. While early marriages often deny young girls access to education and employment opportunities, childbirth injuries, as well as the sexual acts that take place beforehand, have dramatic health effects on young girls. Child brides are also much more susceptible to domestic and sexual violence.
Although this may seem like common knowledge to more informed societies, the unfortunate truth is that the practice is more commonplace in underdeveloped nations, and poverty plays a huge role. Many families in these societies end up marrying off children as a means of lessening economic burdens.
Despite the left's claims that the U.S. is a serial oppressor of women, there is more than sufficient evidence that outside of western civilization, the situation for women's and children's rights are much more dire.
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