save the children.jpg
Photograph: savethechildren.org.uk

Girls as young as 10 are forced into marriage and an estimated 700 million women and girls worldwide were married before the age of 18, according to a new report released Tuesday by Save the Children, marking International Day of the Girl Child on October 11.

The study, which cites UN statistics, says that by the year 2050 around 1.2 billion underage girls may be forced into child marriage, with poverty and crises named as some of the main causes.

"Early marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children," said Susanna Krueger, CEO of Save the Children Germany, in a statement.

The girls were also more likely to face abuse and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, according to the report titled "Every Last Girl."

Save the Children, an independent organization for children in need, ranks 144 countries based on the hardest place to be a girl regarding education, child marriage, teen pregnancy and maternal deaths.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the worst record for the mistreatment of girls, with Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia named as the countries with the youngest child brides.

Western nations were also mentioned in the report, with the United States and Britain having disproportionally high rates of teenage pregnancies and Germany being labelled as a country where child marriages were "relatively common."

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