Lifestyle & Belief

More than half the women in these countries are married by the time they turn 18


A relative (L) comforts a bride as she participates in a mass marriage in the village of Vadia, some 210kms north of Ahmedabad late March 11, 2012.



The report is as sad as it is horrifying.

A child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria has been accused of killing her much older groom and three of his friends by poisoning their meals with rat poison.

The 14-year-old girl, Wasila Umaru, was married to the 35-year-old man last week.

Although she told authorities she was forced into the betrothal, Wasila will likely be charged with culpable homicide for the incident that took place last weekend.

"The suspect confessed to committing the crime and said she did it because she was forced to marry a man she did not love," Assistant Superintendent Musa Magaji Majia said.

While shocking, Wasila's story is far from uncommon.

According to the International Center for Research on Women, one-third of the world's girls are married before they turn 18. One in nine will be married off before she turns 15.

Child marriage is most common in Nigeria and other African nations, particularly in drought years when a child bride can bring much needed money and decrease the number of mouths for a poor family to feed.

These countries are among those with the highest rates of child marriage around the world.

They are ranked according to the percentage of women who were married at the age of 18 or younger between 2000 and 2011 as reported by the United Nations Population Fund:

1. Niger (75 percent)

(Pius Utomi Ekpei AFP/Getty Images)

2. Chad (72 percent)

(Kambou Sia AFP/Getty Images)

3. Bangladesh (66 percent)


4. Guinea (63 percent)


5. Central African Republic (61 percent)

(AFP/Getty Images)

6. Mali (55 percent)

(Fred Dufour AFP/Getty Images)

7. Mozambique (52 percent)

(Jinty Jackson AFP/Getty Images)

8. Malawi (50 percent)

(Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images)