Child marriage rate increases in Brazil as young girls seek to escape abuse

Prevalence of Child Marriages Worldwide

A recent report shows that young girls are seeking older husbands in an effort to escape from violence and abuse in their homes. Researchers say that this study is the first of its kind in Brazil.

It's very clear that there have been huge amounts of research conducted on child marriage in Brazil: the country is ranked fourth in the world in number of girls who are married to or living with a partner by age 15. In fact, the 2010 Brazilian government census showed that 877,000 women from ages 20 to 24 reported to be married by age 15.

In terms of legality, Brazilians are allowed to marry at age 16 with consent from both parents or even earlier when specific circumstances such as pregnancy are involved.

Brazilian organizations say that very few efforts have been made to tackle the issue.

Alice Taylor -- the lead author of the report -- says that Brazil normalizes and accepts child marriage. She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview:

The report found that while South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have more formal and ritualized child marriage processes, child marriage in Brazil is usually consensual and more informal.

Research found that while child marriage in Brazil is often fueled by violence in the home -- both sexual and non-sexual -- the violence often comes from relatives and stepfathers, driving the girls to seek safety among older men who are outside of the family.

"Child marriage is an expression of a girl's limited opportunities in terms of education and employment," Taylor said. "They get married based on an expectation that their life will be better and that they will have more independence, and that expectation is usually unfulfilled."

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