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Early Marriage: Overview


Early marriage is common in many parts of the world. Defenders of the practice say marrying in particular a young girl to an older man brings prestige and social acceptance to the family. It also brings financial reward in the form of a dowry or animals that come as part of a bride’s price.

Madira Paulos is the executive director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association in Addis Ababa. She says early marriages bring psychological and reproductive problems for young women whose reproductive tracts are not fully formed. She says many drop out of school or flee the proposed union: “Because of fear of this early marriage, they are forced into crime, street begging, especially rural to urban migration. Even from the health cost of population pressure, this is a problem in our country.”

Paulos says Ethiopia has a 49 percent prevalence for early marriage in the world – placing it in 12th place after Niger, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali, Guinea, Central African Republic, Nepal, Mozambique, Uganda, Burkina Faso and India.

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