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Children Forced To Marry - The risks and dangers including HIV - 2004-05-25

Young girls being forced to marry is a problem in a number of societies, including some in sub-Saharan Africa. A recent photo exhibit on the subject on Capitol Hill in Washington featured images and personal stories of despair and hope for child brides. Countries in the exhibit included Nigeria, Liberia, and Ethiopia and Mali. The exhibit was produced by the International Center for Research on Women. The photo essay can be viewed online beginning May 28th at the ICRW's website at

Dr. Pejus Olukoya is a medical specialist in gender health and equality for the World Health Organization. English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard interviewed Dr. Olukoya. She told Cole that health risks, based on early pregnancy in the marriage include premature labor, low infant birth weight resulting in high neo-natal mortality, and high maternal mortality.

Also she says older husbands ?are sexually more experienced than these girls, and are more likely to be infected with HIV.? Therefore, she says, the young brides ?have a very, very high incidence of HIV infection.? Child marriages are greater in poor countries where families are tempted to give their girls away earlier because of economic advantage, meaning ?that?s one less mouth to feed, or clothe or house.? Plus, the husband ?pays some amount of money to the family.?

Also, when a child is married, she?s cut off from school, vocational training, earning a living and other opportunities for growth. She?s also ?at the bottom of the food chain,? meaning she?s vulnerable to low self esteem by virtue of her placement in the husband?s family.

Click above links to download ort listen to Mallard interview.