Violence against women is also: Child marriage

Photo: Krishna, 14, pictured with her four-month-old baby Alok in 2013, married her husband Gopal when she was 11 and he was 13. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 9 – Violence against women is also: Child marriage



Early child marriage in Kenya

Kenya is just one of many countries where child marriage is a norm. According to the UNFPA, 10% of all pregnancies in Kenya occur in girls that are ages 15-19 years old. 26% of all Kenyan girls are married before the age of eighteen. This widespread practice continues to exist as girls are often viewed as a burden to the family, and are married off as soon as possible. In the West Pokot County in Northwest Kenya, 85% of the population are illiterate, with most young girls becoming mothers in their early teens. This poses significant risks for both the young mothers and their families.

Girls that are married at an earlier age have less of a chance of pursuing an education. In West Pokot, the enrollment rates for girls in secondary schools drop significantly when compared to primary school enrolment rates. With pregnancies occurring at an earlier age, the majority of women become stay-at-home mothers who depend on their husbands for a source of income. This leads to a reduced sense of independence and agency.

Additionally, younger mothers are less aware of their children’s needs. This reduces chances of having healthy children that lead successful lives. In the region of West Pukot, women often walk miles in order to gain access to a health clinic. Younger mothers are advised by older local women to nourish their babies with milk and water, rather than through breastfeeding. Their lack of knowledge means that newborns often end up at a greater risk of dying from malnourishment.


Helping mothers like Regina

Regina is one of many mothers in West Pukot who gained access to Action Against Hunger’s mother-to-mother support groups and health clinic. At the clinic, staff make use of the SMART methodology to identify malnourished children and to care and treatment to them immediately. SMART (Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition) is an inter-agency initiative, that involves measuring the MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) to determine the extent of malnourishment in children.

Action Against Hunger is also making a significant difference to the West Pukot community by encouraging mothers to educate one another through the mother-to-mother support groups. Regina Chelimo Domoo, is one of these women, who previously walked several miles to reach clinics and to support her two children. Recently, Regina has been selected by Action Against Hunger, to set up a support group for women within her village. This has enabled the young mothers to attend meetings, to learn from another and finally to support each other.

Read more:

Child Marriage Action Against Hunger
Pauline is a 17 year old mother of two, in Kenya.


Help us stop child marriage.