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Child marriages: 39,000 every day

General Ban Ki-moon that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.

The session will address the problems created by early marriages and ways to prevent them. Mereso Kiluso, a Tanzanian mother of five now in her 20s, who was married at 14 to an abusive man in his 70s, will describe her experience.

If child marriage is not properly addressed, UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 - calling for a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate and a three-fourths reduction in the maternal deaths by 2015 - will not be met.

Child marriage - defined as marriage before the age of 18 - applies to both boys and girls, but the practice is far more common among young girls.

Child marriage is a global issue but rates vary dramatically, both within and between countries. In both proportions and numbers, most child marriages take place in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

In South Asia, nearly half of young women and in sub-Saharan Africa more than one third of young women are married by their 18th birthday.

The 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, 75 percent; Chad and Central African Republic, 68 percent; Bangladesh, 66 percent; Guinea, 63 percent; Mozambique, 56 percent; Mali, 55 percent; Burkina Faso and South Sudan, 52 percent; and Malawi, 50 percent.

In terms of absolute numbers, because of the size of its population, India has the most child marriages and a prevalence of 47 percent.

What progress has been made to stop the practice has been in urban areas where families see greater work and education opportunities for young girls.

A violation of the rights of girls

"No girl should be robbed of her childhood, her education and health, and her aspirations. Yet today millions of girls are denied their rights each year when they are married as child brides," says Michelle Bachelet, M.D., Executive Director of UN Wo

Contact: Marshall Hoffman
Hoffman & Hoffman Worldwide

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