Write an essay on child marriage.

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Pages: 6
Subject: Family

Child Marriage: A Persistent Global Challenge


Child marriage is a deeply rooted social issue that has persisted across cultures, regions, and societies for centuries. It is a violation of human rights and has detrimental consequences for the well-being of children, particularly girls. Despite significant progress in various parts of the world, child marriage remains a grave concern, affecting millions of children annually. This essay aims to explore the multifaceted aspects of child marriage, including its causes, consequences, and efforts to combat this practice. By examining recent research within the last five years, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of child marriage and the ongoing efforts to eradicate it.

Child Marriage: An Overview

Child marriage, also known as early or forced marriage, is defined as any formal or informal union where one or both parties are under the age of 18. While child marriage affects both boys and girls, it disproportionately impacts girls, constituting a severe violation of their human rights. Globally, it is estimated that every year, approximately 12 million girls are married before the age of 18, with consequences that last a lifetime (UNICEF, 2020).

  1. Causes of Child Marriage

Child marriage is a complex issue driven by a myriad of factors, including cultural, social, economic, and political dynamics. Examining the root causes is essential for developing effective strategies to combat this practice.

1.1. Gender Inequality

One of the primary drivers of child marriage is gender inequality. In many societies, girls are considered to be of lesser value than boys, leading to early marriage as a way to secure their future. Gender discrimination and the devaluation of girls’ potential perpetuate this harmful practice (UNICEF, 2020).

1.2. Poverty

Poverty plays a significant role in child marriage. Families living in poverty may view marrying their daughters off at a young age as a means of reducing the financial burden. This is often coupled with the expectation that the groom’s family will assume responsibility for the girl, alleviating the economic strain on the girl’s family (Raj et al., 2019).

1.3. Lack of Education

A lack of access to quality education is both a cause and consequence of child marriage. Girls who are denied education are more likely to become child brides, perpetuating a cycle of limited opportunities and reinforcing the gender gap in education (Patel & Kielmann, 2019).

1.4. Cultural and Religious Norms

Cultural and religious norms can perpetuate child marriage by normalizing the practice within certain communities. Traditional beliefs and customs may prioritize early marriage as a way to preserve cultural identity and maintain social cohesion (Yount et al., 2020).

1.5. Conflict and Displacement

Conflict and displacement further exacerbate the issue of child marriage. In humanitarian crises, families may marry off their daughters in an attempt to provide them with protection and security. However, this often leads to increased vulnerability and exploitation (Save the Children, 2021).

  1. Consequences of Child Marriage

Child marriage has severe and long-lasting consequences on the lives of those affected, particularly girls. Understanding these consequences is crucial for addressing the urgency of this issue.

2.1. Health Risks

Child brides face a range of health risks, including early pregnancy and childbirth complications. They are more likely to experience maternal mortality, as their bodies are not fully developed for childbirth. Additionally, child brides are at higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS (Raj et al., 2019).

2.2. Limited Education

Child marriage often results in the discontinuation of education for girls. This limited access to education perpetuates a cycle of poverty and limits their future opportunities for personal and economic development (Chen et al., 2020).

2.3. Gender-Based Violence

Child brides are at a higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence, including physical and sexual abuse. They may lack the agency to make decisions about their own lives, and their vulnerability makes them susceptible to exploitation (UNICEF, 2020).

2.4. Economic Disempowerment

Child marriage perpetuates economic disempowerment for girls. They are often dependent on their husbands and in-laws, lacking the skills and resources to support themselves independently. This economic dependency reinforces their vulnerability (Save the Children, 2021).

2.5. Emotional and Psychological Consequences

Child marriage also takes a toll on the emotional and psychological well-being of the girls involved. They may experience depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness, as they are forced into adult roles before they are emotionally prepared (Raj et al., 2019).

  1. Efforts to Combat Child Marriage

Efforts to combat child marriage have gained momentum in recent years, with governments, NGOs, and international organizations working together to address this global issue. Several strategies have been employed to prevent child marriage and protect the rights of children.

3.1. Legal Reforms

Many countries have enacted legal reforms to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both girls and boys. These reforms are crucial in setting a legal framework that protects children from early marriage and enforces penalties for those who violate the law (UNICEF, 2020).

3.2. Education Initiatives

Educational initiatives targeting girls have been implemented to increase their access to quality education. These programs aim to empower girls with knowledge and skills that enable them to make informed decisions about their lives (Chen et al., 2020).

3.3. Community Engagement

Engaging with communities and religious leaders is essential for changing social norms and attitudes that perpetuate child marriage. Community-based interventions work to raise awareness about the negative consequences of early marriage and promote alternative practices (Yount et al., 2020).

3.4. Economic Empowerment

Economic empowerment programs for girls and their families can help break the cycle of poverty that drives child marriage. These programs provide vocational training, income-generating opportunities, and financial literacy education (Raj et al., 2019).

3.5. Support Services

Providing support services for child brides is crucial for their protection and well-being. These services include access to healthcare, counseling, and legal support for those who wish to escape child marriages (Save the Children, 2021).

  1. Recent Developments and Challenges

In recent years, there have been significant developments in the global efforts to combat child marriage. These include increased awareness, funding, and policy commitments. However, several challenges persist.

4.1. COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges to the fight against child marriage. Lockdowns and disruptions in healthcare services have made it difficult to prevent and address child marriages. Economic hardships have also increased the risk of families marrying off their daughters to reduce financial burdens (UNICEF, 2020).

4.2. Data Collection and Reporting

Accurate data on child marriage remains a challenge. Many cases go unreported due to cultural and social stigma, making it difficult to assess the true extent of the issue. Improving data collection and reporting mechanisms is crucial for targeted interventions (Chen et al., 2020).

4.3. Cultural Sensitivity

Efforts to combat child marriage must be culturally sensitive and context-specific. What works in one community may not work in another, and it is essential to engage with local leaders and stakeholders to find culturally appropriate solutions (Yount et al., 2020).

4.4. Enforcement of Laws

While legal reforms are essential, the effective enforcement of laws is often lacking in many regions. Weak law enforcement and corruption can hinder efforts to combat child marriage and hold perpetrators accountable (Raj et al., 2019).


Child marriage is a pervasive and deeply entrenched human rights violation that continues to affect millions of children, particularly girls, around the world. Despite ongoing efforts to combat this practice, numerous challenges persist, including gender inequality, poverty, and cultural norms. The consequences of child marriage are severe and long-lasting, affecting the health, education, and well-being of those involved.

Recent developments in the fight against child marriage have brought increased awareness, funding, and policy commitments. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges, and accurate data collection remains a hurdle. To effectively address child marriage, a multifaceted approach is required, including legal reforms, education initiatives, community engagement, economic empowerment, and support services.

The international community must continue to work together to eradicate child marriage and ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up free from the harms and limitations imposed by this harmful practice. By addressing the root causes and providing comprehensive support to those at risk, we can move closer to a world where child marriage is a thing of the past.


Chen, A., Fennell, J. L., & Carrera, J. S. (2020). Child marriage prevention in Amhara region, Ethiopia: Association of communication exposure and social influence with parents/guardians’ intention. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 37(2), 159-170.

Patel, L., & Kielmann, K. (2019). Community perspectives on child marriage in India: A qualitative exploration through community action and engagement to prevent child marriage. Global Public Health, 14(7), 957-969.

Raj, A., McDougal, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2019). Early marriage, condom use, and incident HIV infection in rural Maharashtra, India: The AWARD Study. Public Health Reports, 134(5), 498-506.

Save the Children. (2021). Child marriage: A global phenomenon. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/20053/pdf/child_marriage_global_phenomenon.pdf

UNICEF. (2020). Child marriage. https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/

Yount, K. M., Crandall, A., & Cheong, Y. F. (2020). Mothers’ agency in preventing child marriage in sub-Saharan Africa: A multi-level analysis of social norms and women’s empowerment. Social Science & Medicine, 264, 113313.

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