650 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday

Child marriage, defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18, is a fundamental violation of human rights.  It occurs among both boys and girls, though the prevalence is about five times higher among girls – reflecting societal values that hold girls in low esteem and deprive them of the agency to chart their own course in life. It often compromises a girl’s healthy transition to adulthood by resulting in early pregnancy, social isolation, interruption of education, limited socio-economic opportunities and increased risk of domestic violence. Moreover, adolescent girls are often married to older men, creating a power dynamic that further disempowers girls and exposes them to greater risks of violence, sexually transmitted diseases and a lack of agency.

Data

  • Percentage of women aged 20 to 24 years who were first married or in union before ages 15 and 18

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  • Percentage of girls who have undergone FGM (as reported by their mothers, by place of residence and household wealth quintile)

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  • Percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have heard about FGM and think the practice should continue (by place of residence and household wealth quintile)

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  • Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone FGM (by place of residence and household wealth quintile)

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  • Percentage of boys and men 15-49 years old who consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for at least one of the specified reasons, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the child

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  • Percentage of girls and women 15-49 years old who consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for at least one of the specified reasons, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the child

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Notes on the data

1. World Health Organization, Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An interagency statement, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNECA, UNESCO, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO, Geneva, 2008, p. 4.