By enabling women and girls to choose when and whether to have children, family planning gives them choice, power and autonomy and helps ensure their safe passage into adulthood. Yet all too often, child brides are denied these rights. Here are five things you need to know about child brides and family planning.

1/ CHILD MARRIAGE IS ONE OF THE MAIN DRIVERS OF ADOLESCENT PREGNANCIES

Did you know? 90% of births to adolescent girls in the developing world occur within a marriage or union [1].

Child brides typically face intense social pressure from their husband, in-laws and family to prove their fertility, which means they are more likely to become pregnant early and often.

2/ CHILD BRIDES RARELY HAVE ACCESS TO FAMILY PLANNING

Did you know? Married adolescents have the lowest use of contraception and the highest levels of unmet need [2].

Married girls do not always realise they have a right to contraception, and the right to choose if, when and how many children to have. They are often isolated, hard to reach and unaware that such services are available.

Child brides who are married to older men may lack the negotiation skills and the confidence to assert their needs to their husbands.

The stigma adolescent girls can face when trying to access contraception also means that they are less likely to return for follow up.

3/ PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH PUT CHILD BRIDES AT RISK OF SERIOUS INJURIES AND DEATH

Did you know? Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls between the ages of 15 and 19 globally [3]. 

Child marriage encourages the initiation of sexual activity at an age when girls’ bodies are still developing.

Girls who become pregnant during their childhood or adolescence are too young to cope with the toll of pregnancy and they face serious risks during the course of their pregnancy and childbirth. They are also at significant risk of pregnancy-related complications: 65% of all cases of obstetric fistula occur in girls under the age of 18 [4].

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