February 14, 2017

“My sisters had to leave school to get married - I’m determined to keep studying for as long as possible"

Child marriage is not a good look. Palestinian artist Rand Jarallah - a UNFPA Innovation Fellow - used makeup to spread the word.

Photo illustration by Whitney Kidder. Makeup by Randistic. © UNFPA/Whitney Kidder/Randistic

A new video and pictures have been released on Valentine's Day to remind us of the millions of young girls who are deprived of education, their health and a future because of child marriage.

Today is Valentine's Day. But as millions of couples around the world celebrate their love, 40,000 girls under the age of 18 will be getting married.

Their education may be disrupted because they are not allowed in school or because of early pregnancy. If they have children too young they have a significantly increased risk of health complications, death in childbirth and infant mortality.

They are also at greater risk of domestic violence and abuse - and are less likely to be able to escape poverty. 

As part of its annual #IDONT campaign, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has produced a new Valentine's Day video and partnered with artists for a series of pictures illustrating the issue of child marriage.

“All of my sisters had to leave school by year seven to get married," said 14-year-old Punita from Nepal, who learned about the harm of child marriage from a programme supported by UNFPA and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. 

She wants to break the cycle by staying in school and becoming a teacher, adding: "I’m determined to keep studying for as long as possible and get a great job - just to show the world that one of us could do it.”

More than 48% of adult women in Nepal said they were married by 18, said UNFPA. You can see more pictures and interviews here.

  • Act
  • Related Stories