Friday, 31 July 2015

31% of Zimbabwean young women aged 20-24 years were married before the age of 18 according to recent statistics. In addition to this, Zimbabwe's ranking by countries with the highest number of underage girls who get married - has moved from position 27 in 2012 to 21 in 2013. This means daily, girls below the age of 18 are placed at risk of being married off and losing their childhood.

Child marriage puts girls' lives in grave danger from the challenges of early pregnancy. Given that 90% of adolescent pregnancies in the developing world are to girls who are already married, child marriage almost always leads to teenage pregnancy. This places girls in increasing vulnerability to the complications of pregnancy and child birth which are the leading cause of death of adolescent girls worldwide. Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years are five times more likely to die from the complications of pregnancy and child birth whilst girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years are two times more at risk that those aged 20-24 years.

Child brides face high chances of experiencing domestic violence which includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse. They are almost always forced to leave school thereby significantly reducing their likelihood of entering productive employment and being economically empowered This leaves them prone to more abuse because of low decision making power fuelled by financial dependence and a poverty of mind.

Due to lack of knowledge and power in marriage, child brides are particularly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Child marriage also forces girls into early sexual activity at a time when they know little about their bodies, sexual and reproductive health or contraception. 

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