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U.N. Warns Of Little Progress Curbing Child Marriage Rates; Human Rights Watch Report Shows Practice Widespread In South Sudan

“If current child marriage rates continue, more than 140 million girls will become child brides between 2011 and 2020, the United Nations said [Thursday], warning that little progress has been made towards ending this harmful practice,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Of these 140 million girls, 50 million will be under the age of 15, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which added that young girls who marry before the age of 18 have a greater risk of becoming victims of intimate partner violence than those who marry later,” the news service writes, noting, “Child marriage is increasingly recognized as a violation of the rights of girls as it interferes with their education, blocks their opportunity to gain vocational and life skills, and increases their risk to sexual violence as well as their chances to contract HIV” (3/7).

In related news, “Human Rights Watch says widespread child marriage in South Sudan is violating girls’ rights, limiting female education and contributing to soaring maternal mortality rates,” VOA News reports. “David Mepham of Human Rights Watch said the child marriage report is based on more than 80 interviews with girls and women,” according to the news service, which notes, “The Human Rights Watch report released Thursday says this has major implications for the education of girls and women, and for the overall well-being of the country. It says many girls are leaving school early, some as young as 11, to marry.” The news service adds, “According to government statistics, just under half of girls aged between 15 and 19 in South Sudan are married. Some marry as early as 12” (Hennessy, 3/7).