Despite the fact that the tradition of child marriage is slowly being outlawed in many countries, over 20,000 girls are still married off illegally each day, Reuters revealed in a new report.
According to the report by the World Bank and Save the Children charity — released on International Day of the Girl — about 7.5 million girls become child brides every year in countries that ban early marriage. The highest rates of child marriage occur in West and Central Africa, where 1.7 million illegal child marriages happen each year.
The report outlined the difficulty in enforcing anti-child marriage laws because of community traditions and religious customs.
“Laws banning the practice are an important first step. But millions of vulnerable girls will continue to be at risk unless child marriage is tackled head on,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt, The Head of Children the Children charity said.
“We need to change attitudes in communities so that we can end this harmful practice once and for all.”
Child brides in particular face increased rates of domestic and sexual violence. Child marriage often deprives girls of education and higher rates of serious childbirth injuries and death if they give birth before their bodies are ready.
Thorning-Schmidt added, “When a girl gets married too young, her role as a wife and a mother takes over. She is more likely to leave school; she may become pregnant and suffer abuse.”
The World Bank reported ending child marriage would increase the educational achievements and earning of girls and reduce population growth. The report added that across the world, there are nearly 100 million girls who do not have laws protecting them from child marriage.