Myke Uzendu, Abuja with Agency reports
THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that it will take over 100 years to end child marriage in West and Central Africa due to high population growth and cultural practices.
A report released by the international body revealed that every four in 10 women in West and Central Africa are married off before the age of 18 and one in three of these are married off before the age of 15.
UNICEF gave the names of six of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world as Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The body maintained that five countries in the region – Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Ghana and Rwanda – have seen the practice decline by 40 to 60 per cent over the past 25 years.
Life-altering consequences for millions of child brides will be accompanied by a crippling impact on the region’s prosperity, the report concluded.
UNICEF said even a doubling of the current rate of decline in child marriages would not be sufficient to reduce the number of girls marrying each year. “We need to shake our- selves up,” said Fatou- mata Ndiaye, UNICEF’s deputy executive director