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The Guardian News – Global Development Professionals Network – Friday August 23, 2013

Child bride Bhopal, India

Child marriage rates in Nepal and India are among the highest in the world. Above: A 14-year-old girl on her wedding day in Bhopal, India. Photograph: Reuters

By the age of 17, Zeenat had been divorced three times after forced marriages. She first wed shortly after puberty to a man who abused her, an experience that recurred in her subsequent marriages.

She became so isolated that she did not go to the hospital or ask for help. Neither had she heard of India’s Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, which made her husband’s violent outbursts not just wrong, but illegal.

Sadly, her story is all too common. Every year about 10 million girls become child brides, and one in seven girls in the developing world marries before the age of 15.

Bangladesh, Nepal and India have three of the highest rates of child marriage, with 68.7%, 56.1% and 50% respectively of girls married before the age of 18. Child marriage is not just a question of poverty – although that is a critical issue – but also of how girls are viewed in society. . .

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