Early unions or child marriages make it difficult for young women to develop a life project.
Pregnant teenage girl sitting in a classroom. / Photo: wayka.pe
LatinAmerican Post | Michell Valdez
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A statement released by the Unicef regional office, based in Panama, indicates that in Latin America, one in four women married before the age of 18, a situation that leads them to abandon their studies and exposes them to partner violence.
The information has been made public through different platforms and media, in which UNICEF calls on governments to pay attention to this reality.
Bernt Aasen, interim regional director of UNICEF, for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that early unions or child marriages make it difficult for young women to develop a life project. "We cannot keep our eyes closed in the face of this great loss of potential and forgotten rights," he said in a statement.
Countries that top the list
The report released on Friday, October 11, 2019, reveals that the nations that lead the prevalence of marriages before the age of 18 are: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize, followed by Guyana, Barbados, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, Panama While the lowest are Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the report "Profile of child marriage and early unions," If the trend observed continues, by 2030 the region will have one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, only behind sub-Saharan Africa. This is associated with the fact that in Latin America and the Caribbean, girls with a higher risk of facing this situation generally live in rural areas, in poor households and have less access to education.
Regarding early motherhood, the report showed that 58% of women who married or joined during childhood gave birth before age 18, and 28% before they turned 20.
We must act now
The Regional Gender Advisor in UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean, Shelly Abdoll, made it clear that: “ if we do not act now against early unions and child marriage, the present and future of adolescent girls are at risk, due to the strong impact that has early motherhood, the high risks of partner violence and the consequences of dropping out of school."
He said that if this chain of consequences is not interrupted, the cycle will be repeated in the next generations.
Unicef together with the United Nations Population Fund and UN Women work to reverse alarming and historical trends, by placing girls and adolescents at the center of the solutions.
It is indicated that, at present, child marriage has been firmly positioned on the global development agenda, in order to eradicate this practice by 2030.
According to the Unicef portal, the work they develop is based on empirical data, rigorous research, and thorough analysis. That is, UNICEF combines experience, tests, and analysis in order to create campaigns, reports and programs in the places where they are most needed.