One in four young people in Latin America got married before they turned 18


One in four young women in Latin America and the Caribbean married or began living with their partners before they turned 18, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged for 25 years and that worries the UN Children's Fund ( UNICEF), which has urged redouble efforts to combat this scourge.

A report states that the prevalence of child marriage is higher in rural areas, low-income households and with less access to education. By country, the situation in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize is particularly worrying, where the proportion of women aged 20 to 24 already married soars above 30 percent.

One in four young people in Latin America got married before they turned 18
One in four young people in Latin America got married before they turned 18

This data also includes early unions, a specific feature of the region and that leaves those who integrate into them outside any registry but equally vulnerable. In both cases, UNICEF considers this to be a violation of Human Rights.

“Early unions or child marriages make it difficult for young women to develop a life project,” warned the agency's regional director, Bernt Aasen, in a statement calling for “not to keep your eyes closed before this great loss of potential and forgotten rights. ”

If the trend persists, Latin America and the Caribbean will be in 2030 the second region in the world with the highest rate of child marriage, only behind sub-Saharan Africa.

The consequences are “devastating”, according to UNICEF, which has indicated that most of the women married during childhood gave birth before the age of 18 and more than eight in ten before the age of 20. Of the four countries with data comparable, it can be extracted that girls who got married suffer more violence within the couple than women who marry after 18 years.

In addition, adolescent girls face greater obstacles in the labor market and, therefore, are exposed to a vicious circle of poverty and exclusion that also threatens future generations.

“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 of early motherhood, violence in the couple and school dropout,” said Shelly Abdoll , regional gender advisor at UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean. “How long will we remain silent in the face of this brutal reproduction of inequality?”

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