For millions of little girls across the world, childhood is brief. It is estimated that 10 million girls a year worldwide, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, are married under the age of 18, some as young as seven or eight. According to UNICEF, more than 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India. There are some 60 million children who have been forced to enter into marriage and the numbers will only continue to rise if gender inequality is not made a global priority.
This year, the fight against child marriage was made a priority by ‘The Elders’, a coalition of prominent retired statesmen that includes Nobel Peace Prize winners and former heads of state, who launched a campaign against the practice. Their effort, Girls Not Brides, was formally launched at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York and has now gained the support and backing of many other global foundations.
One major front of this battle is India. According to The State of the World’s Children 2012Report released by UNICEF last Wednesday, 22% of women between 20 and 24 in India gave birth to a child before they turned 18. Furthermore, 45 out of every 1,000 babies are born to mothers between the ages of 15-19 years old. The report’s shocking statistics also showed that 57% of male adolescents (15-19 years old) and 53% of female adolescents thought a husband was justified in beating up their wives under certain circumstances.
Read the rest of this post by our Executive Director, Cassandra Clifford on the Foreign Policy Association's Children's blog here.
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