One in Three Girls Married Before 18, UN warns

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Geneva: One in three girls in developing countries will be a child bride before they are 18, a United Nations report warns on the UN International Day of the Girl: a special day designed to help educate and empower women globally to avoid child marriage.

“Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him,” Tehani recalls of the early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 25. Photo: Stephanie Sinclair

This is Tehani. She got married when she was six, some 19 years younger than her husband.

The young wife poses for a portrait photo with her 25 year-old husband in her home town Hajjah, in northwestern Yemen. Two years later, aged eight, she recalls: “Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him.”

Her story is one of thousands being told in a new report published by the United Nations on Thursday, to mark the UN Day of the Girl. The report, Marrying Too Young, End Child Marriage, makes it clear that despite near-universal commitments to end child marriage, the practice remains rampant.

If nothing changes, developing countries will witness an increase in child marriage, the report predicts. Between now and 2020, there will be 142m child marriages and 151m in the subsequent decade, it warns.

The figures are already bleak. One in three girls in developing countries, excluding China, will probably be married before they are 18. One in nine will be married before their 15th birthday, the study reveals.

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