An analysis from a non-governmental organisation, Save the Children, has revealed that more than an estimated 22,000 girls a year are dying from pregnancy and childbirth resulting from child marriage. .
The analysis was released on Monday, marking the International Day of the Girl.
According to the organisation, 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.
The analysis says that 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), and Latin American and the Caribbean, with 560 annual deaths (or nearly two a day).
The report added that although nearly 80 million child marriages globally have been prevented in the last 25 years, progress had stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic—which has only worsened inequalities that drive child marriage..
The organisation lamented that with school closures, health services under strain or closed, and more families being pushed into poverty, women, and girls faced an increased risk of violence during the lengthy lockdowns.
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. Governments must prioritize girls and ensure they’re protected from child marriage and premature childbirth-related deaths. This can only happen if girls have a say in the decisions that affect them.”