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    Child Marriage

    Globally, 15 million girls every year are forced into marriage – that’s over 41,000 every day or nearly 1 girl every 2 seconds. This practice violates girls’ human rights, limits their education and harms their health.

  • Girl with young child Girl with young child

    They will never hold their peace

    Meet the Wedding Busters. They’re a group of Bangladeshi children on a mission to end child marriage. With the support of Plan International, they’ve successfully prevented 226 child marriages in their communities.

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A child bride


  • Every year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18.
  • Early marriage often leads to early pregnancies. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death among 15 - 19 year-old girls globally.
  • Child marriage is a global issue and no country, religion or culture is immune.
  • In absolute numbers, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. The rate of child marriage in the country is 47%.
  • Five countries with highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Bangladesh. In these countries, more than 50% of girls are married by 18.
  • Girls with secondary schooling are up to 6x less likely to marry as children compared to girls who have little or no education.

A summary of these statistics can be found on the Girls Not Brides site and in this report by UNICEF: 'The State of the World’s Children 2016'.

Girl holding a sign protesting child marriage.

A vicious cycle

Many child marriages are considered forced because in most situations, girls do not give their free and full consent. But in many cultural contexts, early marriage of girls is standard practice. As a result, girls may appear to give consent to respect and obey the wishes of their families and their communities.

The consequences of early marriage go beyond the lives of young married girls themselves, ultimately affecting the next generation.

Child brides are almost always forced to drop out of school. This not only limits girls own future prospects, but also their ability to contribute to their countries broader social and economic goals. Children of young, uneducated mothers are less likely to have a good start to their own education, to do well in class, or to continue beyond the minimum schooling. Even worse, daughters of uneducated mothers are especially likely to drop out of school, marry young, and continue the cycle.

Girl holding a sign protesting child marriage.

Early pregnancy and health risks for child brides

Child marriage also has negative health consequences for girls. It increases girls risk of violence, abuse, and HIV infection. Early marriage often leads to early pregnancy as well and globally, pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19.

Success Stories

Girl looks into camera
When girls win, the world wins.

After a tough fight, young girls won their battle against child marriage. In an unprecedented victory, the people of Malawi challenged the government to amend the constitution to ban child marriage.

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Girl talking into microphone
Three girls who said I don't

Child marriage violates the rights of 15 million girls a year. See how Amrita, Arul and Arjina stood up for their rights and the rights of other girls to say that child marriage is not okay.

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Family of 4 smiling.
Education is a girl's best friend.

Education helps girls better their lives. The longer they stay in school, the less likely they'll be married early. See how Keya and Roksana used education as a weapon to fight child marriage.

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Why child marriage?

Too often, the reason for child marriage is a combination of poverty, gender inequality and a lack of understanding or respect for children's rights. These issues, coupled with a lack of access to education and entrenched social norms, cause child marriage to carry on. But, there's a growing movement to end child marriage, and a critical part of the solution is education.

Education will help stop child marriage

We know that one of the best ways to combat child marriage is to keep girls in school. Its proven that girls who receive a higher education are less likely to be married before age 18 than girls without an education. When a girl is educated, she will marry later, have fewer and healthier children, and earn a higher income.

So, what is Plan doing?

  • Engaging directly with individuals and groups within communities who are working to halt the practice of child marriage.
  • Ensuring children are registered at birth. Without registration, children cant prove their legal age or claim protection under any legislation that exists in their country specifying a minimum age for marriage.
  • Supporting youth-led groups that raise awareness about children's rights, including the right to not be forced into marriage at an early age.
  • Supporting children's groups that work with community volunteers, legal systems, women's groups, community-based organizations and local governments to promote the rights of children.
Help put a stop to child marriage!

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