Child Marriage | Early Marriage | Plan International Skip to main content
15 million girls marry before the age of 18 each year – the equivalent of one every 2 seconds.

If we don’t act now, more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020. 

What is child marriage? 

Child marriage is a violation of children’s human rights. Despite being prohibited by international law, it continues to rob millions of girls under 18 around the world of their childhood. Early marriage denies girls their right to make vital decisions about their sexual health and well-being. It forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or early death.

In Bangladesh, 66% of girls are married before they turn 18. Watch the video to explore the issues and see how a Plan International-supported children's group is taking action to end early marriage.


Why does it happen? 

5 reasons why child marriage still happens

Where does it happen? 

Early marriage and forced marriage is most common in South Asia and West and Central Africa, where 46% and 41% of girls become child brides respectively. Among girls growing up in Latin America and the Caribbean, 29% experience early marriage, compared with 18% in East Asia and the Pacific, 15% in the Arab States and 11% in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

What are the consequences? 

Get our newsletterEarly pregnancy is one of the most dangerous causes and consequences of child marriage. Girls married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sexual relations. They are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).

Going to school gives girls choices and opportunities in life, allowing them to play an active role in their communities and break the cycle of poverty. Girls who are married are unlikely to be in school. Education is essential for girls to be able to make informed decisions about their sexual health and well-being.  

How does Plan International support young people affected by early and forced marriage? 

Plan International’s Because I am a Girl movement works at local, national and international levels to enable millions of girls to avoid early and forced marriage, stay in school and benefit from a quality education. 

We help children and young people, as well as parents, community leaders and governments, to identify, understand and end harmful practices. Crucially, we ensure that children - particularly girls - are involved in the process and empowered to claim their rights.

How to stop child marriage


What you can do to stop it

Raise awareness and tweet this

"If we don't act now, more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020. #endchildmarriage." Tweet this

"Every 2 seconds a girl becomes a child bride. Stop the clock - #endchildmarriage" Tweet this

Join the movement

Learn more about the Because I am a Girl movement.

Download our report

Evidence shows that entrenched traditions and views are still forcing young girls into early marriage. Learn how you can help stop this in Plan International’s comprehensive survey of child marriage in Asia.