According to the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), globally, more than 700 million alive today marry before the age of 18. However, 15 million additional girls are married as children- the majority of these married children are based in developing countries. Child marriage is considered human rights abuse and as well as a major impediment to gender equality. Additionally, it does not affect only the child bride but also of their children. This article, therefore, covers some effects of early marriage.
Child marriage also known as early marriage has adverse effects on children mainly girls. They enter into these marriages below the ages of 18 years and this creates an intergenerational cycle of disadvantage. Factors that mainly contribute to early marriages include economic drivers such as incentives to marry out girls to reduce the financial burden on the family. Additional factors include societal norms and perceived protection -this is when parents want to build their social status in the society through their daughters’ marriage which links the two families together.
Nevertheless, parents believe that by marrying their daughter at an early age, she will save herself from prostitution, sexual harassment, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Negative health consequences of early marriage include poorer maternal and reproductive health, increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, intimate partner violence, and maternal mortality. early childbearing increases risk to women’s health. This includes complications during pregnancy and childbirth complications which leads to death among women aged 20-24 years.
Child marriage also leads to adverse economic outcomes – this includes lower educational attainment or dropping out of school, lower socio-economic status, and high rates of poverty. However, children who are born by women affected by early marriage are more likely to be born prematurely or low birth weight and therefore leading to poorer health.
It also leads to a high birth rate in countries which in turn puts pressure on social amenities. It leads to a high unemployment rate which increases social vices such as robbery, prostitution, etc. in the country.