The country briefs highlight the child marriage practices in nine Southern Asian countries.
Child marriage is a violation of a girl’s rights. It seriously compromises the efforts to reduce gender-based violence, advance education, overcome poverty and improve health indicators.
Child brides are often forced into early sexual activity and therefore early childbearing. Because their bodies are not yet fully developed, these young adolescents are at much greater risk of suffering from conditions like obstetric fistula and hemorrhaging, or even death. According to UNICEF figures in the region, girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are twice as likely to die of pregnancy and childbirth complications as women between ages of 20 and 24. Also, girls are more vulnerable to contracting life-threatening diseases as they are often given away to much older men who have an elevated chance of being HIV positive or having other sexually-transmitted infections because of prior sexual experience.
Though most governments in Southern Asia are aware of the seriousness of the issue and have taken some steps to prevent it from occurring, child marriage remains one of the greatest development challenges the region faces today. A dangerous combination of entrenched poverty and customs that are deeply rooted in patriarchal tradition continue to fuel the harmful practice.