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Two humanitarians make a plea to end child marriages

Two stalwarts for humanity, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, make a plea to end child marriages. The argument is not only compelling but unassailable.

"Sadly, millions of girls worldwide have little or no choice about when and whom they marry. One in three girls in the developing world is married before she is 18 - one in seven before she is 15. The reasons vary: custom, poverty and lack of education all play a part. Boys are married young, too, but a far greater number of girls are affected and it has a much more devastating impact on their lives.

Because they are young, child brides are relatively powerless in their families and often lack access to health information. This makes them more vulnerable to serious injury and death in childbirth - the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 to 19 in the developing world.

We know that empowering girls is one of the most effective ways to improve the health and prosperity of societies. Child marriage perpetuates poverty by keeping girls, their children and their communities poor."

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