700 million women married before age of 18: Report
An underage Bangladeshi girl in her wedding attire. In Bangladesh, 65 per cent of girls get married before they turn 18, according to UNICEF. Photograph: (Getty)
More than 700 million women got married before the age of 18, according to a UK-based NGO Save The Children.
A little over 230 million women got married before they turned 15, the report said, underscoring the scourge of child marriage in various parts of the world.
The problem is worse in developing nations as one in three girls get married before the age of 18.
The findings suggest that an estimated 70,000 adolescent girls die due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
Child marriage remains widespread in several communities despite the practice being deemed illegal and viewed as a human rights violation by the United Nations.
Such marriages trigger a vicious circle for women as most girls who get married under the age of 18 do not continue with their education. Lack of education not only undermines the girl's future but also limits the country's national economy, the report said.
Girls who get married before 18 also face the threat of domestic violence, marital rape and the likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, the report stated.
Despite the UN deeming it as a crime, seven countries do not have any law to prevent underage marriages. About 30 countries allow girls to get married at the age of 14 with parental approval.
African nations of Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia are considered to be hardest places for a girl to be brought up in, as per Save The Children index.
South Asian countries do not fare well either. In India, 47 per cent of women are married off before they turn 18, according to UNICEF. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, UNICEF pegs the number at 65 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.