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Help a girl like Kema

Across the world, young girls’ childhoods are being lost, cut short by forced marriage – usually to grown men, some old enough to be their father.

Once childhood and innocence are lost, they can’t be replaced. Girls can suffer from terrible abuse, made pregnant far too young, risk serious health problems and even death. It’s wrong, but it happens.

12 million girls under 18 are married each year*

Kema is just 8 years old and terrified of marriage.

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*Kema’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

 

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Ending child marriage

16 and pregnant for a third time

Born into poverty in Bangladesh, Rani loved school and playing with her friends, but at the age of 11 she became a wife.

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Young girls fighting to end child marriage

This is the time to pay attention to girls’ education, to make the community aware and to protect children from sexual abuse and violence. We want to live our lives with freedom.

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Why does child marriage happen?

In some places it’s not uncommon for boys and girls to both marry before the age of 18. But, overall cultural norms and views of girls – where they aren’t seen as future breadwinners or leaders – mean that girls are more likely to be affected.

Of course, boys aren’t immune. In some places, they might have to marry young too – to brides their own age or even younger.

Cultural ideas

Girls are seen as wives and mothers to a future family.
If they aren’t considered as breadwinners, decision-makers or leaders, then education isn’t seen as important.

Money

In many circumstances, girls are sadly viewed as financial burdens to their families – and less valuable than boys.

Where dowries are expected from a bride’s family, marrying young can bring down the cost.

Survival

Desperate parents might use marriage to cut the number of mouths they have to feed, to secure their daughter in a family with the means to look after her when they can’t, or to settle debts or conflicts.

How can we stop it?

Education: Girls who aren’t in school face a greater risk of becoming child brides. When girls have access to education, they develop the knowledge and confidence to make important life decisions for themselves — including if, when, and who to marry.

Health information: Forced child marriages can have unintended and devastating consequences on a girl’s physical and emotional health and development. Knowing the potential risks and dangers can change communities’ views.

Livelihoods: Girls with skills training can carve a role for themselves as wage-earners for the family. And as women, they won’t be dependent on a husband.

Community action: Local leaders can influence change, while child protection volunteer groups can educate children and parents and help girls who are worried or at risk.

“I saw marriage as a way out of poverty and suffering. My would-be husband promised to take care of me. What had not dawned on me was that I would be abused by a violent man… Thanks to World Vision, I was taken back to school.” Bupe* in Zambia was married at 15, and is now in a safe house, with dreams of becoming a nurse.

How can you stop it?

Sponsor a child today.

By investing in the life of a girl in need, you’ll help her – and her family and whole community – with protection, education, health, water and livelihoods.

With all of this, a girl can stay in school and avoid child marriage. She can become a healthy, happy adult – and everything she was made to be.

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