Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue

Rev Obstet Gynecol. Winter 2009;2(1):51-6.

Abstract

Marriages in which a child under the age of 18 years is involved occur worldwide, but are mainly seen in South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. A human rights violation, child marriage directly impacts girls' education, health, psychologic well-being, and the health of their offspring. It increases the risk for depression, sexually transmitted infection, cervical cancer, malaria, obstetric fistulas, and maternal mortality. Their offspring are at an increased risk for premature birth and, subsequently, neonatal or infant death. The tradition, driven by poverty, is perpetuated to ensure girls' financial futures and to reinforce social ties. One of the most effective methods of reducing child marriage and its health consequences is mandating that girls stay in school.

Keywords: Child marriage; Early marriage; Maternal mortality.