Child marriage, like other social issues, affects many young girls and is a global issue that today, continues to be a challenge for many parents and many women.
According to UNICEF data on child marriage, one in four women aged 20-24 worldwide, were child brides. In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching the age 18 and one in nine is married under the age 15.
Papua New Guinea, amongst other developing nations, is also challenged by this problem, although it is against the law.
This has seen girls under the ages of 18, some as young as 12, get engaged into marriage.
Contributing reasons that see under aged children forced into marriage include family’s honour, arranged and forced marriage plans and social and customary norms.
Apart from this, other likely reasons may include women who have lost their parents and are under the care of guardians, and those who are exposed to other forms of sexual violence at an early age.
While these may be just a few reasons as to why many young Papua New Guinean girls under the age of 18 get into marriage, there are still many other reasons that also get girls into this problem.
Concerned individuals and NGOs in the country have been vocal in advocating about the issue however the challenge of monitoring the issue still remains.
Although many view it as a normal exercise, they do not understand the health and social challenges the victims will go through in their future. This includes complications at birth, domestic violence, the difficulties of raising children and even some who end up losing their lives if not properly looked after.
Constraints as to why this becomes a challenge include the vast scattered communities in and around the country, access challenges and most importantly illiteracy as most women under the age of 18 in Papua New Guinea are not educated.
The same challenge is witnessed across many nations and UNICEF, plus other organisations, are working side-by-side advocating on the issue globally to help victims and end child marriage.