Women with a disability are 1.62 times more likely to experience child marriage, a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has shown.
Additionally, women with disabilities who had a history of child marriage were 1.78 times more likely to report intimate partner violence in the past year compared to non-disabled women.
The research found that the prevalence of child marriage among women with disabilities was 45 percent, ranging from 35 percent in Pakistan to 63 percent in Mali. The study assessed the prevalence and associations of disability with girl child marriage and intimate partner violence among currently married/cohabiting women aged 20–24 years in Pakistan, Mali, Uganda and Haiti.
Read: Inside Nigeria’s wife battering crisis
“These findings are critical given the high rates of child marriage and increasing vulnerability to disability from poverty, conflict, disaster, displacement, and infectious disease outbreaks in fragile states,” said Samantha Kanselaar lead author of the study at the George Mason University.
The findings highlight the urgent need for disability-inclusive violence programming and policies to protect and support girls with disabilities.
Child marriage has been associated with negative reproductive and mental health outcomes, making it a pressing issue that needs to be addressed globally.
According to the study, progress in reducing child marriage has been inconsistent and stagnant, a trend that has been particularly dire in fragile states often characterised by conflict, political instability, insecurity, disaster and poverty.
Despite the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal’s call for both the elimination of violence against women and girls and disability-disaggregated data, few studies have investigated how disability may be associated with girl child marriage and how these two factors impact intimate partner violence.
Source: The East African