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Watch Atou’s story Play Video

Atou* was 11 when she was married, ending her childhood.

She remembers being subject to abuse. She had no say in what happened to her body – and became pregnant three times. She was denied freedom and choice.

Child marriage was already a problem. Now, because of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change, millions more girls are being forced into lives they don’t choose.

They are often married off because it is the only way their families can survive.

But child marriage can be stopped with your help here now.

Your support will help:

  • train case workers who can intervene in suspected cases of forced child marriage
  • create safe spaces, education and support networks so girls are supported to refuse marriage and build their own lives
  • provide medical treatment and counselling to help girls recover from child marriages
  • boost Plan International’s bold 5-year campaign to end forced and child marriage in the Asia-Pacific region.

(* name changed to protect her identity)

Help girls free themselves from child marriage

Child marriage: the facts and the opportunity

Around 650 million women and girls alive today were married as children. Unless we accelerate our efforts, 150 million more girls will be married by 2030.

There is a strong correlation between child marriage and humanitarian crises. Twelve out of the 20 countries with the highest child marriage prevalence rates face the most severe humanitarian crises.

Child marriage puts girls at high risk of death and complication from childbirth. Globally, girls aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die during delivery than women in their 20s, while girls aged 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die during childbirth than women in their 20s.

The World Bank estimates that achieving universal female secondary education could virtually eliminate child marriage and reduce the prevalence of early childbearing by up to 75 per cent.

With every year of schooling a girl receives, her eventual income will increase by 20 per cent. She is likely to invest 90 per cent of her income back into her family – compared with 35 per cent for men.

Child marriage and early pregnancy rob girls of their childhoods, their education, their autonomy and sometimes even their lives and the lives of their children.

Ending child marriage will not only free girls and unleash their potential, but help the world achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect the planet between now and 2030.

(Photo: Atou was married off at 11. Pregnant by 12. Cast out – with 3 children – at 15).

Watch Karry’s story Play Video

Karry’s story

Karry, 19, refused her parent’s wishes to get married early when she was 14 years old.

“I think it was a good decision to reject my marriage. If I look at the other children, friends around my age, I am the only one left who is not married or has children. I notice that young married couples are poor, often get sick, and have arguments.”

Currently in her final year of high school in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia, her parents did not want Karry to continue her education beyond secondary school.

“My parents did not encourage me to go on to higher education because I am a daughter….they only encourage their son to get a good education.”

Karry has now become a leader in her community, thanks to journalism training led by Plan International.

The mobile journalism project is teaching girls how to produce and broadcast stories about child marriage. Working in partnership with the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, the girls have produced stories, interviews, and social media posts that tell the story of child marriage and dropping out of school from a unique vantage point: the girls themselves.

Too many girls have their childhoods, education and choices taken from them by child marriage. It does not have to be this way. You can help by making a donation.

Help girls free themselves from child marriage

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