Amazing Stats

Stats on Child Marriage and Solutions

Child Marriage by the Numbers

Child marriage involves a marital arrangement where one or both people are under 18 years of age. Most commonly, a young girl is married to an older man, often much older.

Global child marriage stats

Here are some global on Child Marriage stats.

82% of child marriages involve girls.

23 to 29 girls are married every minute.

Every 2.5 seconds a girl under 18 has her future stolen.

Each year, despite most countries having laws against it, 12 – 15 million girls are married before the age of 18.

In the world’s poorest families in developing countries:

More than 50% of girls are married before 18.

1 in 9 girls is married before they turn 15.

COVID 19 means at least 4 million additional girls will be forced into early marriage in the next 2 years because of increased poverty, the death of family members who might have protected them, the closure of schools, and the breakdown of community supports.

Due to the undocumented nature of most child marriages, official statistics are underreported.

Sexual abuse and child marriage

Globally, what is the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 – 19?

(a) Complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
(b) Starvation due to famine and insecure food sources.
(c) Disease due to inadequate access to health care.
(d) War, terrorism and insurrection.
(e) Murder.

The answer is, (a) Globally, complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19.

Child marriage devastates a girl’s health:

• They’re neither physically nor emotionally ready to give birth.
• They face higher risk of death in childbirth and are particularly vulnerable to pregnancy-related injuries.

Children born to girls not ready to be mothers are at a higher risk of malnourishment, stunting, abuse, injury, and early death.

Marrying before 18 increases the risk of HIV:

5000 females are infected with HIV every week, with 1 in 7 new infections occurring in adolescent girls, and that rate is increasing.

Child brides cannot negotiate for safe sex – they lack the power, and they don’t understand what sex or condoms are.

Due to the undocumented nature of most child marriages, official statistics are underreported.

Child Marriage in the US

While Child Marriage is more common outside of the western world; child marriage is still legal through various loopholes in 13 states in the US.

Legal Age of MarriageState(s)
No Age FloorJudgets can order approval
California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

Clerks can approve without judge
Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
14Alaska, North Carolina
15Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico
16Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
17Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee. Nebraska
also requires parental consent until age 19, that state’s age of majority.
18Delaware and New Jersey, with no exceptions.

Data Source: Page two of Understanding State Statutes on Minimum Marriage Age and Exceptions, by Tahirih Justice Center, July 1, 2019

Tahirih Justice Center’s report named 10 states in the US where a judge could approve a marriage license involving a minor of any age.

In 12 states a clerk could approve a marriage license without court order.

In California, the legal age of marriage is 18 years or older, but there are statutory exemptions that, when met, would allow a child of any age to marry through a court order.

Negative repercussions for little girls

Besides devastating her health, what else does child marriage do to a young girl?

(a) It always ends her childhood and usually ends her ability to make life choices.
(b) It usually ends her education, as she is generally forced to drop-out of school.
(c) It usually ends her chances at a vocation and being able to earn a living.
(d) The consequences of husband care, pregnancy, childcare and household responsibilities, including looking after her in-laws, losing her friends and dreams, and exposure to violence can overwhelm her psychologically.
(e) All of the above are true.

All are true!

Child marriage usually means depriving a girl of her childhood, dreams, education, friends, life choices, learning a vocation, and being able to earn a living. Girls married before 18 are twice as likely to report being beaten by their husbands and are often victims of sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress, and severe depression. To make matters worse, child brides are frequently trafficked for sex or labour to provide financial gain for the spouse.

What does this mean?

Child marriage creates a huge threat to a country’s economic and social development:

• For every extra year a girl stays in school, she increases her future earnings by about 15%.
• Ending the practice could generate more than $500 billion annually.
• It perpetuates intergenerational poverty – children of parents with no education or skills are unlikely to break out of the poverty trap.

Social norms that value boys over girls mean finances are reserved for boys’ education, while girls are quickly married-off.

End child marriage:


Why does child marriage still exist?

Which of the following explain why the problem of child marriage still persists?

(a) Failure by most countries to enact laws against child marriage.
(b) Strong laws against child marriage exist in most countries, but those laws are not enforced.
(c) The continuing existence of the Patriarchy, which views females as commodities.
(d) Gender inequality and poverty.
(e) All of the above are true except for (a).

All explain the persistence of child marriage except for (a) – most countries have enacted strong laws against child marriage.

Child marriage continues because:

  • The law is not enforced.
  • Of patriarchal beliefs that females are property, that girls must be married early to protect them from premarital sex, and that education is wasted on girls, combined with poverty and gender inequality.

UNICEF estimates that 25 million child marriages were prevented in the last decade because of global efforts. Overall, child marriage was declining, especially in India and parts of South Asia, where rates dropped by about 35% between 2013 and 2019.

But COVID 19 has significantly impeded progress, putting at least 4 million additional girls at risk.

What can you do?

You may be asking, “What can we do to stop child marriage?”

For starters Check out the this TEDx talk: A survivor’s plea to end child marriage
Payzee Mahmod | TEDxLondonWomen

Here are some other suggestions:


Educate communities about the harms/costs/risks of child marriage. Ensure parents are aware of other options for their daughters. Empower girls and young women with information and ways to make their voices heard.


• Strengthen economic opportunities for vulnerable households.
• Ensure adequate resources for education, health, and protection are available for BOTH boys and girls.
• Create a supportive legal and policy environment.
• Enforce laws regarding child marriage.


• Work with religious / social / political leaders and local celebrities to change cultural norms.
• Support organizations working to end child marriage.
• Work with your government to pass resolutions to end violence against children globally, including child marriage.

Support organizations that work to stop Child Marriage. Here’s a list created by The Pixel Project:

Support organizations fighting child marriage


  1. Breakthrough – global
  2. CARE – Global
  3. Humanium: Help the Children – Global 
  4. Girls Not Brides – Global
  5. Save the Children – global

Asia and the middle east

  1. Egyptian Foundation for Advancement of the Childhood Condition – Egypt
  2. Saarthi Trust – India
  3.  Seyaj – Yemen
  4. The Knowledge Hub on Child Marriage – India
  5. Vasavya Mahila Mandali – India 
  6. The Knowledge Hub on Child Marriage – India
  7. Vasavya Mahila Mandali – India 
  8. World Vision – Marriage Later/Studies First Programme – Bangladesh
  9. The Knowledge Hub on Child Marriage – India
  10. Vasavya Mahila Mandali – India 
  11. World Vision – Marriage Later/Studies First Programme – Bangladesh


  1. The Coexist Initiative – Kenya
  2. Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) – Tanzania

Western / developed countries

  1. Forward – UK
  2. Girls UP – USA
  3. ICRW – USA