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Number of child marriages falling too slowly: UNICEF

Slight decline of girls entering childhood marriage globally
— United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Child marriages are declining -- but at a rate that would not eliminate the practice for another 300 years, while a perfect storm of crises could yet reverse the trend, the United Nations childrens' agency said Tuesday.

"We definitely have made progress in the abandonment of the practice of child marriage, particularly in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, this progress was not enough," Claudia Cappa, lead author of the UNICEF report published Tuesday, told AFP.

According to UNICEF estimates, 640 million girls and women today were married when they were under 18. At present, an estimated 12 million girls are becoming child brides each year.

But over the past 25 years the rate at which such marriages take place has been slowing: in 1997, 25 percent of young women aged 20-24 were married before 18. By 2012 that figure had dropped to 23 percent, and by 2022 it was at 19 percent.

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