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Child And Forced Marriage And FGM Are Way More Common Than You Think

Child and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) are two of the most extreme manifestations of discrimination against women and girls. These devastating and harmful practices are much more widespread than you think.

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Every two seconds a young girl is forced into marriage.

Jessica Lea, DFID / Via Instagram: @dfid_uk

Every year, 14 million girls are married as children, meaning that more than 64 million girls worldwide are child brides. Betty (pictured) was forced to get married when she was three years old.

When girls are married at a young age they are denied their rights to health, education, opportunity, and a childhood. Girls who are married young are at a greater risk of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth complications, of being infected with HIV/AIDs, and of suffering domestic violence.

Complications from pregnancy is the leading cause of death among girls ages 15-19.

DFID / Via Flickr: dfid

It's not malnutrition or disease that kills the most girls ages 15-19, but medical complications from pregnancy. In fact, girls under 15 are 5 times more likely to die during childbirth. Child marriage leads to early childbearing, which increases the likelihood of complications and death during childbirth and infant mortality.

Hadiza (pictured), lost her baby and nearly lost her life when after displaying clear signs of danger she was not taken to a hospital and instead gave birth at her parents' home.

Child and forced marriage happens all over the globe.


1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married before they're 31. But child and forced marriage can be found in every region of the world. In the UK, for example, hundreds of girls are at risk being forced into marriage. And studies show that in the US the problem of forced marriage is under reported.

Child and forced marriage robs girls of an education.


Child brides are more likely to drop out of school, and without proper education a girls' ability to contribute to her family and community is hindered. In fact, when a girl in a developing country received more than seven years of education she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

140 million women and girls worldwide are victims of FGM.


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a deep-rooted social practice most common in Africa, where over 95% of all FGM occurs. It is an extremely physically and psychologically damaging process with absolutely no health benefits whatsoever.

FGM can be deadly.

Jessica Lea, DFID / Via Flickr: dfid

Men like Saaga (pictured) have lost daughters from the loss of blood that FGM can cause. If they survive the procedure, women can suffer from painful menstruation, problems urinating, and long-term disability. FGM also causes severe problems for mothers in pregnancy and childbirth and can even lead to death for the baby. FGM leads to an extra one to two perinatal deaths per 100 deliveries.

There is hope. And we can have an impact.


The good news is that things are changing. In the heart of communities and families across Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, more and more people are saying no to these practices. Many governments in developing countries are already working to end these practices, passing laws, and developing plans. Our role is to get behind, support, and accelerate these efforts. Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their full potential.

Lend your voice!

Stephanie Sinclair / Via

We can end child and forced marriage and FGM in a generation, and you can be a part of the generation that changes that once and for all.

On July 22, The Girl Summit, hosted by the UK government and UNICEF, will rally a global movement to end child, early, and forced marriage and FGM for all girls within a generation. There are six ways you can get involved, including pledging your support on Twitter or Facebook using #GirlSummit and adding your voice to the world’s first ever Instagram documentary.

Learn more about what the UK government and the Department for International Development (DFID) are doing to improving the lives of girls and women in the UK and the world's poorest countries.