The ‘hidden’ problem of child marriage in Latin America
The ‘hidden’ problem of child marriage in Latin America

Q24N – Plan International for Latin America and the Caribbean expressed its concern about the high rates of marriages and common-law relationships at early ages reported on a daily basis from the different regional countries.

A report published by that organization said that one out of every five young girls, from 15 to 19 years of age (19 percent) is married or in free union, proving the lack of commitment to counteract this situation.

Guatemala has one of the highest child marriage rates in Latin America. The practice primarily happens among poorer, indigenous, rural communities. Read more…

According to polls on health and demography, the regional countries with more predominance of married women or in consensual union before turning 18 are Nicaragua, (41 percent), the Dominican Republic (40 percent), Honduras (39 percent), Brazil (36 percent), Guatemala (30 percent) and El Salvador (25 percent).

Plan International does not have a regional office in Costa Rica.

Those figures are almost two-times more in rural areas, according to Emma Puig, regional specialist in programs of gender equality and social inclusion from International Plan.

MORE: The ‘hidden’ problem of child marriage in Latin America

Adolescents with low-income, residents in these areas and those who belong to indigenous people and Afro-descendants are the most vulnerable population to those practices, about which there is little information, due to their invisibility, the organization said.

According to Plan International, marriage is among the numerous forms of violence against young girls, as well as forced unions at early ages, because others can be derived from this one, such as sexual, physical, psychological and domestic violence.

The worst consequences of early marriages include school drops and the risk of suffering violence, abuse, forced sexual relations and early pregnancy, which is the second main cause of death among adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years of age.