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  • Marriage of survival: Will climate change mean more child brides?

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Marriage of survival: Will climate change mean more child brides?

Source(s):  Al Jazeera Satellite Network

By Abigail Higgins

After Cyclone Idai battered southern Malawi last year, the hotline Weston Msowoya manages was flooded with calls. They were reporting cases of young girls being married off in the tented camps hastily established by the United Nations Refugee Agency and other aid groups to house some 94,000 people displaced by one of the deadliest storms to ever hit the southern hemisphere.


Thanks to climate change, extreme weather events like Cyclone Idai will likely ramp up dramatically in the coming years, including more devastating flooding from rising sea levels and storms with unprecedented severity. Droughts have already increased in frequency and intensity, particularly in Africa. A growing body of evidence is showing that what Msowoya observed is not an anomaly: the pernicious effects of climate change are increasing child marriage.


Every year, 12 million underage girls get married; one in five girls get married before adulthood, according to Girls Not Brides, an international nonprofit working to end child marriage. The practice is most common in sub-Saharan Africa where almost four in 10 girls are married before age 18, followed closely by South Asia - two continents where many are already struggling to survive the effects of climate change.


It is a practice, however, that cuts across cultures and religions and occurs everywhere in the world - including the United States. It is associated with a host of negative effects, from cutting girl's education short, to increasing their risk of domestic violence, to their likelihood of experiencing complications in childbirth and the chances that their children will die in infancy.


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  • Publication date 19 Feb 2020

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