HARARE, Zimbabwe AP — In Zimbabwe, where girls as young as 10 are forced to marry due to poverty or traditional and religious practices, a teenage taekwondo enthusiast is using the sport to give girls in an impoverished community a fighting chance at life. They enthusiastically follow her instructions to stretch, kick, strike, punch and spar. After class, they talk about the dangers of child marriage. Holding their babies, the recently married girls took the lead. One after the other, they narrated how their marriages have turned into bondage, including verbal and physical abuse, marital rape, pregnancy-related health complications, and being hungry. Neither boys nor girls may legally marry until the age of 18, according to Zimbabwean law enacted after the Constitutional Court in struck down earlier legislation that allowed girls to marry at
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In centuries past, when only the highest class had access to education, teen marriage was commonplace. People began working earlier and women had babies at a younger age. In today's society, 46 percent of teen marriages will end in divorce before reaching their 10th year. Money concerns because of lack of education, the stress of raising children at an early age and the lack of maturity in problem solving and communication will lead to challenges that many couples will not be able to overcome. Understanding the problems with teen marriage in today's society can help nurture stronger marriages and stronger communities. Women who are married before the age of 19 are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school, wrote Gordon B. Dahl in "Demography.
What is child marriage? Why does child marriage happen? How common is child marriage?