At first glance, there is nothing very unusual about Muhammad Asif Umrani. A resident of Rojhan city located in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, he is expectantly awaiting the birth of his first child, barely a year after his wedding day.
Radhika Thapa was just 16 years old when she married a 21-year-old boy three years ago. Now, she is expecting a baby and is well into the last months of her pregnancy. This is not the first time she has been with child – her first two pregnancies ended in miscarriages.
Shirin Aktar was just 13 years old when her parents decided it was time for her to get married.
Akech B. loved to study and dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when she was 14, her uncle who was raising her forced her to leave school to marry a man Akech described as old and gray-haired. The man paid 75 cows as dowry for Akech. He was already married to another woman with whom he had several children.
In the small village of Haldiyaganj in the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, 17-year old Injuara Begum is nursing her son who was born right here on the floor of her home three years ago.
In Afghanistan, the maternal mortality rate is on the rise; hospitals are filling up with anaemic women and girls; and in over 200 districts, high schools are devoid of even a single female pupil. These issues are not unrelated - they are all products of a grave social problem in this country of 35 million people: early child marriages.