Ending child marriage in the Arab Region
In the Arab region, one in seven girls marries before her 18th birthday. Early marriage often means an end to the girls’ schooling, forced sexual relations, and early childbearing. Moreover, girls who marry at a younger age are generally more vulnerable to spousal violence than girls who wait longer to marry. Child marriage often perpetuates a cycle of poverty, low education, high fertility, and poor health, which hinders societies’ economic and social development. Also, in the Arab region, the highest rates of child marriage are seen in the poorest countries - Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and South Sudan where annual per capita incomes in 2011 were less than US$2,000.
This policy brief presents the latest data on child members of the League of Arab States (stretching from Morocco to Oman). It explains how ending child marriage would help countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to combat poverty and improve health and quality of life for all. The brief emphasises the importance of taking a broad approach to end child marriage, including mandating more years of compulsory education, setting and enforcing the legal minimum age of marriage, raising community awareness about the harm caused by early marriage, and involving families to find ways to prevent child marriage.