Child marriage often has dangerous effects on a girl’s health and it is one of the key drivers of adolescent pregnancy. Because the body of teenager is still developing, it is not ready for sexual activity neither physically nor mentally. It encourages initiation of sexual activity at an age when they know little about their rights, their sexual and reproductive health. Once married, girls face intense social pressure and it is difficult for girls to assert their desire for safe sex and family planning. Girls before the age of 18 years lack the power to negotiate safer sex and have little access to contraception. It results in early pregnancies and long term health complications.
Early pregnancy : A menace
Early pregnancy is not only dangerous for girls, they are dangerous for their children also. The children of teenagers are more likely to suffer from prematurity and low birth weight and there is increased risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Risks of premature labor, anemia and preeclampsia are higher in teenager pregnancies. Teenage girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die during child birth. Adolescent pregnancies can be prevented by comprehensive sex education and access to birth control. Married girls at young age are more likely to have multiple children in shorter intervals and they are more likely to become disabled due to pregnancy and child birth.
Ways to prevent child marriage:
Educate girls and empower girls: Providing primary and secondary education to girls will improve their chances of access to employment and financial support.
Give the girls some respect: Girls in household where boys are favored often have a low self esteem and little confidence. Empowering performances for girls through informing their human rights and their right to refuse a marriage will improve their self esteem.
Educate the elders: Engaging and educating parents and local elders and leaders is key to change the attitude of a community for childhood marriage.