Child marriages forces girls who are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives/mothers. Girls’ bodies are still developing, they know little about their sexual and reproductive health and are not in a position to refuse unwanted sex and assert their rights. This may increase their risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, as well as unintended and frequent pregnancies.

Child brides face higher risks of death in childbirth and are particularly vulnerable to pregnancy-related injuries such as obstetric fistula.

Child marriage also devastates girls’ mental well-being. Leaving the family home, early pregnancy, and forced sexual initiation can affect the mental health of girls for years to come. They often face intimate partner violence, social stigma, and isolation. Child marriage may be associated with lower psychological well-being, including depression, and possibly higher rates of suicidal ideation and attempts.