Child marriage numbers dropping, says Unicef:
There has been a significant drop in the number of child marriages worldwide, the United Nations children’s agency says.
Unicef estimates that 25 million child unions have been averted in the past decade.
One in five girls is now married before they’re 18, compared to one in four a decade ago.
South Asian nations have seen the biggest reduction in child marriages, Unicef says.
In India, this was achieved by better education for girls and by publicising the harm child marriage triggers.
The agency said the problem was now most acute in Africa but, Ethiopia had cut child marriage rates by a third party.
Anju Malhotra, Unicef’s principal gender adviser, stated that given the life-changing impact child marriage had on a girl’s life, “any reduction is welcome news – but we’ve got a long way to go”
“When a girl is forced to marry as a child she faces immediate and lifelong consequences,” she said.
“Her odds of finishing school decrease while her odds of being abused by her husband and suffering complications during pregnancy increase. There are also huge societal consequences and a higher risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty.”
The report said that the burden of child marriage was shifting to sub-Saharan Africa, in which more progress was required to offset population growth.
Unicef said nearly one in three child marriages were currently in sub-Saharan Africa, compared with one in five a decade ago.
World leaders have pledged to end child marriage by 2030 under the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Malhotra stated that to meet that goal, attempts had to be stepped up “to stop millions of girls having their childhoods stolen through this devastating practice”.