My heart broke for a pregnant 10 year girl in Paraguay this week. There are no easy answers in a situation where a child is raped and conceives as a result. On a side note, over 700 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth in Paraguay last year. What?! You can read about this little girl and her story HERE.
After reading about Paraguay, I ended up hopping from story to report to story about adolescent girls and poverty. Any idea how much of every dollar directed by the global community for international development goes towards adolescent girls? Less than two cents. Even more staggering, a 2013 UN report states that 2 million births that year were to mothers who were 14 years old or younger.
Pregnancy has huge consequences for a girl. 70,000 adolescent girls in developing nations die every year from complications of child birth with girls under 15 being at double the risk. Many of these girls have grown up with poor nutrition and suffer from stunted growth. The health risks associated with pregnancy and giving birth when a girls body is not fully developed are huge even with good access to nutrition and health care which many girls in developing nations do not have. And of course, education is usually dropped when motherhood arrives.
While the story out of Paraguay is the result of rape, many girls become pregnant so early because they are still children when they marry. 1 in 3 girls are married before the age of 18 in developing nations. 1 in 9 before the age of 15. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death for adolescents in these same countries.
On a fundamental level, child marriage is a human rights violation. Increasingly there are organizations working to stop child marriage. To learn more you can check out these organizations:
Sarah lives in Northern Ontario with her family. Sarah and her husband have four children, and one grandson. She is an avid reader and learner. In 2012, Sarah launched JustOne with Krista and travelled to Kenya, Uganda and South Africa together. Sarah has a blog we love to read called "Recipe for Messiness" that is about finding beauty amidst our messy lives.