End Child Marriage

They're children not brides.



Across cultures, countries, and regions, 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year. Niger has the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world and the 14th highest absolute number of child brides – 676,000. 76% of girls in Niger are married before their 18th birthday. (https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/where-does-it-happen/atlas/#/)

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys. In Niger, it is also driven by: poverty, family honor, social status, and gender norms.



Girls are not physically ready to give birth which is one of the reasons why child marriage is an issue. When combined with the lack of power, information, and access to services, young married females face higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity compared to grown women.

Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s, and pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19. The chart shows the maternal mortality rate for young women ages 15 to 19, compared to women ages 20 to 34 in select countries.




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.



The relationship between child marriage and educational deprivation is strong. In most developing countries, it is extremely difficult for girls to remain in school once they get married. Even before the marriage, girls are envisioned to drop out of school due to the expectations that she will take care of the children and the house.

This tradition is often normalized in many countries. As a result, it can be difficult for married girls to return to school. They face several obstacles, such as pregnancy, the responsibility for their children, and their husbands.

Some countries also forbid pregnant girls and young mothers from returning to school.


Education is a powerful tool to combat child marriage. They would be able to reach their potential and develop skills and knowledge to make informed decisions. And although the lack of education is not the root cause for child marriage, addressing this issue would greatly avoid future child marriages.

GLORIA’S STORY — March 25, 2019


“I was supposed to be in school at the time I got married,” Gloria, now 17, told Camfed. “I was 12 years old when I got married to a 35 year old man. They said that the man would take care of me, my siblings, and my mother, due to the poverty levels.”
“I cried because I was too young to get married,” she continued. “I didn’t want to, I didn’t understand the meaning of marriage, I was filled with fear.”
But Gloria knew that her mother couldn’t afford to feed her, buy clothes for her, or pay her school fees, and she felt that if she refused to get married, she wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. 
However, rather than paying the significant dowry that Gloria’s family had hoped for, that her mother could use to support the family, Gloria’s new husband gave her family a single goat. 

In her new role as a wife, Gloria stopped going to school, and instead took care of her husband, and searched for small jobs she could do to earn some money. She and her husband struggled to earn enough to eat. But the greatest loss, for Gloria, was her freedom.

As a child bride, Gloria also endured the terror and pain of an unwanted physical relationship. After six months, she discovered she was pregnant. 

When she was still pregnant, Gloria’s husband died. After the funeral, his brother and successor to his land and property, married Gloria. In her second marriage, she was often subjected to domestic violence, and she lost her baby. Under threat and oppressed, she felt unable to even seek help following her miscarriage.


It’s honestly upsetting on how Gloria’s short story displays a variety of issues within child marriages. First off, Gloria was unfortunately married off at a young age due to poverty. Marrying off daughters at an early age can be part of the local culture, caused by poverty. Parents will do what they think is the best for their daughters and what they find necessary in a given cultural, economic or humanitarian context. However, by marrying off young girls, the cycle of poverty continues. Child brides are less likely to receive the education they need to live a healthy and empowered life. Without an education, they are less able to earn an income to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Essentially, child marriage is most definitely not the solution to ending poverty.

Another issue displayed in Gloria’s story is the end to formal education. Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly after. Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the expectation that she will take care of the home, the children and the extended family.

Lastly, Gloria endured abuse of physical, sexual, and psychological violence. Child brides, such Gloria, are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. Due to the age difference and the power dynamics, they often struggle to assert their wishes to their husbands or negotiate safe and consensual sex. They also are often under a lot of pressure from their husbands and families, keeping them from making their own decisions about their lives and bodies.



“The first time my mother was almost strangled to death, I was five years old.

Key word: almost.

And I think about how fucked up that sentence is, and how I thought it was normal for the longest time.

My Mother is quite literally a ride or die –

A cat with nine lives and I’m not sure how many she has left.

Because when my father grasps his hands around her neck, throttling her like a ragged doll, her body unconscious on the floor, I am paralyzed in fear in what happens next.

He said he would never do it again but he also said that the last time

You see, there are exactly 23 slashes on the door where a knife was gutted through

You see, the nail marks clawed across my bedroom wall is why I keep my door locked at home

You see, the blood stain in the living room carpet never quite leaves –

Trust me, I have tried so hard to scrub it away but it just won’t disappear.

But you see, the problem is…………you don’t see.

For many years, my parent’s domestic violence issue was kept a secret.

So marriage means something different now.

I learned that Love is synonymous for survival

To be there for each other when we were dying.

To be the life guard on duty when my father was drowning in alcohol

To become a martyr for an unjust cause, that breaks you down during the battle and leaves you a bloody mess.

And when you clean that mess –

you build yourself up with the pain and trauma now integrated in every fiber of your being.

But –

My therapist once told me that suffering in silence doesn’t make you stronger.

In a family where outing the secret was punishable through excommunication, I never got to share my side of the truth.

Which is why I am standing with you here tonight.

In solidarity with women like my mother and others who have survived violence of all kinds, it’s important to remember that we are all around you. Our stories are tucked away neatly behind the façade that we put to the world, so be kind. We come together tonight, unifying through the sacrifices we have made.  

Last night I dreamt about my mother’s cries and her pleas

let go, let go, please let go, let go.

That nightmare is still a reality”


Physical Violence Within These Families

Child marriage puts not only the brides at risk of violence, but also their daughters or sons. They often face abuse throughout their lives, and according to GirlsNotBrides (https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/), child brides are most likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife.

The person who wrote this poem was someone who I know personally. Her mother was a child bride, and as a result, her family lived in constant fear due to the relentless violence.

WELCOME — March 1, 2019


Hi. My name is Maisha and I am a freshman at Baccalaureate School for Global Education. Students were assigned to create a blog about an issue we were passionate about. Child marriage immediately popped into my head. Unfortunately, my mother was married off at 14. She was robbed of her childhood and faced numerous hardships which effected her and my family. This worldwide issue is also quite prevalent—and often even normalized in several societies. However, many people are still unaware or not concerned about it. Consequently, I wanted to spread awareness, support those whose childhoods were taken away from this injustice and prevent any further child marriages.

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