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142m girls at risk of child marriage: UN report

October 13, 2012

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Girls stand near their tent at the Jalozai camp, 15 kilometres from Peshawar. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD, Oct 12: Calling for zero tolerance towards child marriage, a latest report of the United Nations has feared that the number of girl child marriages will increase dramatically over the next 10 years and more than 142 million girls are at risk of this human rights abuse.

The number of children marrying each year will grow by 14 per cent from 14.2 million in 2010 to 15.1 million in 2030 if current trends continue, warns the report titled “Marrying too Young: End Child Marriage” released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In South Asia alone, the number of child brides is likely to increase from 24.4 million (4.9 million per year) in 2010 to 27.9 million (5.6 million per year) in 2030. South Asia has the highest prevalence of child marriages with 46 per cent followed by sub-Sahara Africa with 37 per cent.

In Pakistan, the report says, about 5,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur every year, with young girls disproportionately affected. The UNFPA launched a fistula repair project in Pakistan as part of an overall program to improve maternal health and now it is launching another program with focus on ending child marriage and early pregnancy.

In Punjab, the UN agency supported the formulation of a youth policy which addresses child marriage and early pregnancy. Youth networks raised awareness in their communities about the danger of child marriage, the report said.