Over 50 million child marriages could be prevented if girls finished school
LONDON / ISTANBUL
More than 50 million child marriages could be prevented by 2030 if all girls finished secondary school, the charity Save the Children said on Oct. 11 to highlight problems on the International Day of the Girl Child.
Campaigners say children married young tend to leave school, have limited economic opportunities, are vulnerable to abuse and mental health problems and are more likely to live in poverty than those who marry later.
According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age —half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom.
In Turkey, the rate of girls with secondary education stands at 17.3 percent, way below boys with 51.4 percent, according to Mavi Kalem, an Istanbul-based association that focuses on education of girls.
“There is a vital need for fundamental legislative and social reforms in order to put an end to the drawbacks girls face due to gender inequality in Turkey and elsewhere in the world,” Mavi Kalem said.
There are 5,635 underage Syrian refugee mothers in the city, the association cited Istanbul Governor’s office.
A 2017 World Bank study said ending child marriage could generate more than $500 billion in benefits annually each year.
Data by UNICEF, Plan International, World Health Organization, Care International and Save the Children paint a bitter picture for the future of the children.
Worldwide, about 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex, according to separate data.
Every week, 7,000 girls between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV.
More than 200 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation around the world.
Nearly 3 million girls have been displaced by war.
Girls in conflict zones are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls in peaceful countries.
Based on current trends, almost 10 million girls worldwide will marry in 2030 alone, and more than 2 million of those brides will be under the age of 15.
Every year, 12 million girls are married off before they turn 18 and one in five become mothers before the age of 18.