On this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, UNMISS Force Commander, Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, met two young, eloquent students from South Sudan who were part of Save the Children’s symbolic ‘Girls Takeover’ for the day. Early, and often forced, marriages are alarmingly common in South Sudan.
“Child marriage is one of the worst and deadliest forms of sexual and gender-based violence”
More than an estimated 22,000 girls a year are dying from pregnancy and childbirth resulting from child marriage. New analysis from Save the Children released on International Day of the Girl reveals. With the highest rate of child marriage in the world, West and Central Africa account for nearly half (9,600) of all estimated child marriage-related deaths globally. Or 26 deaths a day. The regional teenage maternal mortality rate is four times higher than anywhere else in the world.
South Asia sees 2,000 child marriage-related deaths every year (or six every day). Followed by East Asia and the Pacific with 650 deaths (or two every day). Latin American and the Caribbean, with 560 annual deaths (or nearly two a day).
Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “Child marriage is one of the worst and deadliest forms of sexual and gender-based violence against girls. Every year, millions are forced into wedlock. With men who are often much older. Robbing them of an opportunity to keep learning, be children, and in many cases, to survive.
“Childbirth is the number one killer of teenaged girls. Because their young bodies aren’t ready to bear children. The health risks of children having children cannot, and must not, be ignored”. Gender inequality continues to fuel child marriage. As revealed in a national report from Save the Children in Nigeria.
According to a survey carried out by the organisation. The belief that children born to young mothers are healthier and smarter is widespread among many communities. There’s also a common perception that younger girls “refresh” older men with their “younger blood”.