Child Marriage Causes

What Causes Child Marriage?

One of our key priorities is to learn what causes child marriage.  As we learn what leads people to marry their daughters (and sons) as children, we can address those causes to stop child marriage. Digging up the roots of child marriage helps us replant the future for millions of girls around the world. Take a look at the stories below to see what we know about causes of child marriage and the factors that make it such a difficult social problem.

We will be adding new stories over the month of July 2014 leading up to the Girl Summit in London on July 22, 2014.  Keep checking back for more stories from CARE's experience of child marriage.

People Don't Value Girls

In a lot of places, people think girls are only valuable because they can have children. In Burundi, even the language tells girls they don't matter.  Read about Consolata, who knows she is valuable, and is determined to help families value their girls.

Mother-in-Laws Matter

Take a look at the role of mothers-in-law in perpetuating, or stopping, child marriage.  We often overlook the role of the husband's mother in child marriage, but they are key players that can help us tip the scales on child marriage.

Men Make Decisions Alone

In places where child marriage is prevalent, the father is often the key decision-maker in the family.  He gets to decide what is good for his children, without asking them. What happens when a father decides that he wants to change the dynamics for his son's marriage?  He can start a revolution.

Girls Don't Have Alternatives

In many societies, marriage is the only option for a girl to support herself and be socially respectable.  For a lot of child brides, getting married seems like the only way to have a future.  But what happens when girls have alternatives?  Their lives change.

Peer Pressure Works

For many communities that practice child marriage, it is simply the right way to behave.  Endayehu considered marrying her girls as children--even though she was married at 12 herself--just to look like a good mother in the eyes of her neighbors.  Find out how she changed her mind.
 

Money Talks

Dowry--the money the bride's family pays to the groom--is a big factor in child marriage.  People worry that the older a girl is, the more they will have to pay, so they marry girls early.  It can be a huge amount of money.  Read about what this means for families.

Family Honor is at Stake

For many families, having a girl get married while she is still a virgin is critical to a family's honor. B’s mother got married at 12 because she was very beautiful, and her family was worried that she would start having sex.  See how B wants to stop this cycle.

Girls Look for a Better Life

Sometimes girls agree to a marriage because it seems like a way to escape the challenges of their current life, from feeling like a burden on their family to not being able to access an education or make decisions.  Girls who believe a promise of a better life may end up in a marriage that is worse than what they left.

Laws Are Not Enough

Most countries with high rates of child marriage already have laws making the practice illegal.  Laws alone are not enough--governments need to implement those laws.  CARE advocates for passing laws and implementing existing laws to end child marriage, locally, nationally, and globally.