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Published On: Fri, Oct 27th, 2017

UNICEF: ‘It will take over 100 years to end child marriage in West and Central Africa’

Unless something drastic happens, it’s going to take about a century to end child marriage in West and Central Africa, according to a UNICEF report published earlier this week.

Public domain image/Mondo Magic

The report revealed as a result of rapid population growth and high prevalence, even a doubling of the rate of the current decline would not be sufficient to reduce the number of girls marrying each year.

We need to shake ourselves up,” said Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director. “We cannot continue to let so many of our girls miss out on their health, education, and childhood. At current rates, our report shows, it will take over 100 years to eliminate child marriage in the region – how is this acceptable?”

While the prevalence of child marriage in West and Central Africa has declined over the past two decades, progress has been uneven, and still four in 10 women are married before the age of 18 and, of these, one in three before the age of 15.

West and Central Africa includes six of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world: Niger; Central African Republic; Chad; Mali; Burkina Faso and Guinea.

Child marriage, the marriage or union of children under the age of 18, is a harmful practice which violates the rights of children. Child brides are less likely to finish school, and are more likely to be victims of violence and become infected with HIV. When children get married, their prospects for a healthy, successful life decline drastically, often setting off an intergenerational cycle of poverty. Also, child brides often lack the skills needed for employment.

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