Jasmine's Place Issue No. 15 - February 2015 - Page 27

Hall is a Senior Child Rights Policy Advisor for World Vision UK. What is the typical age of a child that is forced into child marriage? UN standards state that marriage of children - individuals below the age of 18 - is a violation of human rights. However, we know that in many countries weddings are arranged for girls as young as eight years old. Some girls are even promised as brides before they are born. UNFPA and UNICEF research shows that one-in-nine girls in developing countries marry before their fifteenth birthday. Where is child marriage practiced? Child marriage is a global problem which cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities - occurring in developing countries as diverse as Haiti, Ethiopia, Nepal, Brazil, India and Tanzania as well as in the UK. Most of the world’s child brides and grooms live in South Asia (46%) and in West and Central Africa (41%). The most recent figures show that Niger, Chad and Bangladesh have the highest rates of child marriage. In Niger, 75% of girls are married before their 18 th birthdays. What are the causes of child marriage ? Child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and harmful traditions, as well as the desperation caused by poverty and insecurity. World Vision recently carried out research which shows parents often resort to child marriage when they feel they have no other option. In countries where there is war, conflict or another type of emergency - such as Syria or the Democratic Republic of Congo - parents may believe their daughter will be safer and have a better future if she gets married. When parents have many children to feed, arranging an early marriage is a way to lessen the demand on often scarce resources. They also hope a husband will be able to provide better for their daughter. In conflicts and other emergencies there is also a higher risk of violence against women and girls. Parents may believe that a husband will be better able to protect their daughter from the very real threat of dangers like rape. JASMINE'S PLACE 27