Over the past years, world leaders and professionals acknowledged the practice of child marriage as derailing stability and development. It’s especially true for regions which include sub-Saharan Africa, where they claim the highest rate of child marriage globally, and South Asia, with India as an example of having child brides. Despite the highest regions in Latin America, they are also known to practice child marriage. Most Latin women aged 20 to 24 years old are known to have married at the age of 15 or 18.
These are harsh figures where in Brazil, it is noted to be the hotspot for child marriage. This country is often missing during policy discussions and national research. One reason could have led to the size of the population, which is actually the fifth largest in the world. Aside from that, cohabitation or informal unions also happen here and many other nations in Latin America. This then triggers the problem especially that these unions are not regarded as legal marriage.
In Central America, the practice of child marriage has been unnoted, where obscure laws, poverty, racism and lack of opportunities are fueled in rural communities. For instance, in 2010 in Mexico, 12% of teenage girls were married through formal or informal unions, and around 54% of these girls already have kids. In Guatemala, around 30% of teenage girls were married by 18 yo, and in rural communities, it nearly doubled to 53%.
There has been an effort to battle the widespread belief among the indigenous, rural and poor communities that child marriage is not the answer to poverty. Selected NGOs are now working with these Latin women to divert norms and make a safe space for teenage girls. “AbriendoOportunidades”, a community based program, is now working with indigenous girls to help them earn income, build self-esteem, promote reproductive and sexual health, and talk about topics like marriage. The program has helped these girls become responsible and venture into other options than early marriage. Those who participated in the program remainedsingle throughout the duration.
Latin America and the Caribbean governments are working to target the end of child marriage by 2030, incorporating sad experiences that teenage girls are suffering. To achieve its goals, they need to be visible in regions where child marriage is rampant. Providing information to Latin women on how they can improve their way of life has been a critical issue as it tries to end the harmful practice.