Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. It is ranked eighth of the 20 countries that are considered to have the highest rates of child marriage by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
On average, one out of two girls in Malawi will be married by their eighteenth birthday according to the United Nations.
Around 50% percent of all girls are married by age 18 in Malawi and 25% of all adolescent girls already have a child.
Furthermore, according to the MDHS (2010), girls are four times at risk of being infected with HIV compared to boys Most of these women contract the virus when they are adolescents.
Adolescent girls remain vulnerable to HIV due to many factors, some biological in nature others cultural and social, Mostly early marriages and sexual debut According to government statistics, half of the girls in Malawi will be married by their 18th birthday, with some as young as 9 or 10 being forced to marry.
Every year, early marriage sentences millions of young children to a life in slavery. It’s a crime that’s widespread, but rarely spoken about, a crime that flourishes in the shadows of society.
It is slavery because these girls are immature mentally, physically and it subjects them to all forms of abuse. Government statistics show that between 2010 and 2013,27,612 girls in primary and 4,053 girls in secondary schools dropped out due to marriage.
During the same period ,another 14,051 primary school girls and 5,597 secondary school girls dropped out because they were pregnant.