October 12, 2012 - 20:42 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - More than 14 million girls under the age of 18 will be married each year during the next decade, and the number could increase to more than 15 million between 2021 and 2030, a new report from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) showed, according to Reuters.
As the number of young married females grows, the number of children bearing children will increase, along with deaths among girls, it added.
"In those communities where the practice of child marriage remains common, families can feel it's not worth investing at all in the education of their daughters," said Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA's executive director.
Osotimehin, who last month launched a global campaign urging countries to invest in the education of women and young people, said uneducated girls are more than three times more likely to marry before age 18 than those with secondary education or higher.
In 2010, 158 countries reported that 18 was the minimum legal age for girls to marry without parental consent. But in 146 countries, girls younger than 18 to marry with the consent of parents, and in 52 nations the age is under 15.
In 41 countries 30 percent or more of women 20-24 years old had married by age 18, with Niger topping the list at 75 percent.
The report said as the 2015 deadline for meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws near, governments should recognize that tackling child marriage will help meet at least six of the eight anti-poverty targets.
The global population is projected to grow from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050.
The report urged governments to review national legislation and laws to reflect international human rights standards.