The dark reality of child brides

9 March 2016

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Not all weddings have happily ever afters.

For 15 million girls and young women around the world, their wedding day is not a happy one – their childhood is ripped away and they are put at risk of rape, violence and abuse.

Their wedding marks the end of their freedom.

This is the message behind a powerful new campaign from UNICEF, aiming to put a spotlight on the grim reality of child brides and end child marriage.

The campaign was released to coincide with International Women’s Day, a day when women, girls and gender equality are at the forefront of our minds.

In the video, made in collaboration with popular bridal blog Bridal Musings, viewers are given an insight into Lilly and John’s “storybook” wedding.

Lilly is 11 – her husband is 35.

On the blog, it says: “Lilly took the day off school so that the couple could make use of the mid-week discount at their wedding venue – not that disrupting her studies really matters as Lilly won’t be going back to school this September.

“She’ll have far more pressing matters to deal with such as keeping house and rearing children in her new role as John’s wife.”

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake says the new global programme will help drive action to reach the girls at great risk.

“This is critical now because if current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly one billion by 2030 – one billion childhoods lost, one billion futures blighted," Lake says.

The UNFPA-UNICEF global programme to end child marriage is being supported by Canada, the European Union, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK.

The programme will use the hashtag #endchildmarriage and you can find out more about it here.

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