According to the Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF, the terms child or early marriage are used interchangeably to describe a legal or accustomed union between two people, of whom one or both spouses is below the age of 18 years [1-4]. Currently, one third of the women in Pakistan get married before the age of 18, while about 12 to 13 percent get married before their 15th birthday (Nadia, 2013). Child marriages are considered by many to be a way to protect young girls; rather early marriages leave them physically and socially vulnerable to gender inequality, illness, poverty, and violence . Apart from these consequences, young married girls are exposed to early frequent unplanned pregnancies and termination of pregnancy which results from depriving the women of the contraceptive methods increasing the likelihood of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality [3,6,7]. Most importantly, in its recent guidelines on preventing early pregnancy, The World Health Organization has included the prevention of child marriages as one of the six primary goals .
Magnitude of the Problem
According to Machel, Pires, and Carlsson 34% of girls globally, are married by the age of 18 years and 11% marry before the age of 15 years. Child marriage is a global challenge with a severe impact. The severity is such that it causes psychological trauma and increased risk for sexually-transmitted diseases among young married girls with complications like fistula during childbirth and even death of the young mother or her baby [3,9]. Child marriage does not only deprive girls of their childhood and educational opportunities, but also makes them vulnerable to the brutal cycle of domestic violence, sexual abuse and poverty [2,6]. According to Nour  young women (girls) who are forced into marriage are additionally exposed to greater risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infection as they are forced into sexual activities by their much older husbands.
Determinants of Early Marriages
Family coercion and values
Child marriage is referred to as early or forced marriage since the children are not given a chance for a prior informed consent for their marriage partners. The girls are often forced into marriages who willingly accept marriage as their allotted fate . Moreover, in Islam, the elders in the family are highly respected; therefore they may advocate marriage of young children especially girls in their families with a belief such that this union will keep their daughters safe. Subramanian undertook a study to examine the factors that are associated with the female age at marriage in rural areas of India . Among the respondents, Twenty-three percent of them got married at a younger age (i.e., younger than 17 years) due to either parental compulsion, traditional family practices, or compulsion by the relatives. Therefore, families may also put their children under social or emotional pressure and urge them to marry as part of their family values and tradition.
Citation: Bhanji SM, Punjani NS (2014) Determinants of Child (Early) Marriages among Young Girls- A Public Health Issue. J Womenâ€™s Health Care 3:161. doi: 10.4172/2167-0420.1000161