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Forced Child and Arranged Marriages

  • Natalie Sarachaga-Barato
Chapter

Abstract

The United Nations Children's Fund reported that child marriages have been slowing declining worldwide from 1 in 4 women to 1 in 5 women; however, nearly 650 million women worldwide were married as children and a significant progression would be required to eliminate child marriages by 2030 (United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Marriage: Latest trends and future prospects, UNICEF, New York, 2018). Child marriage has been defined globally as the forced marriage of children or adolescents before the age of 18 and is classified as a violation of human rights (Girls Not Brides, Theory of change on child marriage, 2015; International Center for Research on Women, Child marriage facts and figures, 2015; Kamal et al., Journal of Biosocial Science 47:120–139, 2015; Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, 2014; United Nations Population Fund, Child marriage, 2015; United Nations Children’s Fund, Early marriage: Child spouses, 2001). Since 1948, the United Nations and other international agencies have considered child marriages to be a violation of human rights. Some of the psychological and medical impacts include but are not limited to PTSD, increased suicide risk, depression, intimate partner violence (IPV), early pregnancy, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs; Gage, Social Science & Medicine 97:124–133, 2013a, Journal of Adolescent Health 52:654–656, 2013b; Godha et al., Journal of Adolescent Health 52:552–558, 2013). Child marriages tend to be more widespread in developing countries and are most common in poor, rural communities where gender inequalities persist, which only perpetuates the cycle of women’s poverty and child marriage (International Center for Research on Women, Child marriage facts and figures, 2015; Kamal et al., Journal of Biosocial Science 47:120–139, 2015; Nour, Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2(1):51–56, 2009; Svanemyr et al., Reproductive Health 9:31–33, 2012; United Nations Children’s Fund, Early marriage: Child spouses, 2001; United Nations Population Fund, Child marriage, 2015). Often, once a girl is married, she usually experiences conditions that would meet international definitions of slavery including servile marriage, sexual slavery, child servitude, child trafficking, forced labor, and early and frequent pregnancies. Soylu found that rates of suicidal behavior were at an increased risk for both victims of child sexual abuse and girls in child marriages (Soylu, N., Ayaz, M., & Yuksel, T., Child Abuse and Neglect 38:1552–1559, 2014). The perpetuation of poverty, particularly women’s poverty, engendered by child marriage is in large part due to the resultant educational disruption (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, 2014; Soylu et al., Child Abuse and Neglect 38:1552–1559, 2014; Svanemyr et al., Reproductive Health 9:31–33, 2012; United Nations Children’s Fund, Early marriage: Child spouses, 2001). Further, girls with higher levels of education were less likely to marry prior to the age of 18, as was observed in Mozambique where only 10% of girls with secondary education and less than 1% of those with higher education married by the age of 18.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie Sarachaga-Barato
    • 1
  1. 1.Nova Southeastern University, College of PsychologyFort LauderdaleUSA

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