Every 60 seconds, 23 girls under the age of 18 are forced into marriage somewhere around the world. While still children, many of them are married to men double or even triple their age.
By Dr Carine Le Borgne, Senior Policy Advisor & It Takes a World Lead, World Vision UK
Some of the highest rates of child marriage are in countries impacted by conflict, climate change and other humanitarian crises. In countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh, child marriage is illegal – but all too often these laws aren’t implemented, particularly in places where children have been displaced.
While both girls and boys can be subjected to child marriage, girls are disproportionately affected due to cultural traditions which reinforce gender discrimination.
Girls like Rahila*, from Afghanistan. Here’s her story in her own words:
“My name is Rahila. I am 14. I had to move to another village three years ago because of drought and insecurity. There was fighting between the government and Taliban most of the time.
"My father has a small stall selling snacks to children. My mother is a maid. Neither can read or write. I am studying with the hope of becoming a doctor. One afternoon, three women came to our home who were from the same village as us. I overheard one of the women tell my mother that they have a son and would like me to marry him.
"The boy’s family promised my father to give him US$6,400 and a piece of land as a bride price. My father was happy. With the money, he could start a new business and pay the rent of our house. My dream of becoming a doctor was over. I wanted to kill myself. One night I told my father how I felt, and he got angry and slapped me.