Girls are not property; they have the right to determine their destiny
More than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of FGM in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common. Beyond extreme physical and psychological pain, girls who undergo FGM are at risk of prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and death.
Child marriage is even more widespread and can lead to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation. Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children. More than one in three – or some 250 million – were married before 15.
Girls who marry before they turn 18 are less likely to remain in school and more likely to experience domestic violence. Young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s; their infants are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.
The numbers tell us we must accelerate our efforts. And let’s not forget that these numbers represent real lives. While these are problems of a global scale, the solutions must be local, driven by communities, families and girls themselves to change mindsets and break the cycles that perpetuate FGM and child marriage,’ Lake said. ‘We can’t let the staggering numbers numb us – they must compel us to act.
FGM and child marriage profoundly and permanently harm girls, denying them their right to make their own decisions and to reach their full potential. They are detriments to the girls themselves, their families, and their societies.
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