“I want the world to know I am 13. I was married at the age of eight to a 29 year old man. I was sold for three goats and one cow. Now, I have a 10 month old baby.”- Sonamoni, Bangladesh

Sonamoni’s wedding day was meant to be one of the happiest days of her life but it turned out to be one of her last days of freedom. Standing at the altar, she knew she was about to leave the comfort and support of her family.
She would be pulled out of school, forced to abandon her dreams and pressured into having a baby at just 13 years old, before her body was ready. “I spent three months in hospital after childbirth due to bleeding,” she says.
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Sonamoni wasn’t old enough to have a baby - not physically and not emotionally - but she barely had a choice. Now she needs care, support and protection. She deserves to be at school, laughing with friends and learning to build the future she wants.
UNICEF is working in Bangladesh right now to help girls like Sonamoni. We’re educating parents on the risks of child marriage, we’re funding local youth groups to empower girls at risk and we’re working to strengthen and enforce laws that establish 18 as the minimum age for marriage.
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Incredibly, one in four young women in the world are married as children.
Parents living in poverty often believe marriage will secure their daughter’s future by making another family responsible for her care. But in practice, early marriage is one of the biggest dangers facing young girls.
Child brides like Sonamoni are less likely to receive medical care during childbirth, significantly increasing their risk of complications and death. They often experience domestic violence and become more isolated from their friends, family and community. So the worse it gets, the harder it is to find help.
That’s why UNICEF’s work is so vital - why your support is so vital. Together, we can reach out to girls who feel trapped in an abusive marriage, with nowhere to go. We can show families and communities another way.
Tomorrow, another 41,000 girls will walk down the aisle to a dangerous future. We need to act today.

You can help

Your generous gift will help to protect children from early marriage, child labour and exploitation, and to deliver lifesaving water, health and nutrition supplies to children through UNICEF Australia’s directly supported programs in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

  • In Mynamar, you can bring young people together as powerful advocates for an end to child marriage.
  • In Laos, you can help young victims of sexual violence to access justice.
  • In Zimbabwe, you can build toilets to make girls feel safe and welcome at school.
  • In Ethiopia, you can help mobile health teams reach girls in the most remote communities.
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