Child marriage is defined as a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and refers to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner, as if married. This can for example be an religious marriage or living arrangements which practically means that the persons are married. If only one of the persons in the marriage is under 18, we speak of a child marriage.
Child marriage affects both girls and boys, but it affects girls disproportionately. Child marriage usually happens because of a combination between economic and social factors. This is for example if a family can’t afford to take care of a girl that they force her to get married at a young age, so they do not have to take care of here anymore. Or in some cultures and/or religions it is customary that girls get married before a certain age.
It is a worldwide phenomenon, in Sub-Sharan Africa and South Asia are the regions that has the highest rates of child marriage in the world, but also in North America are a lot of children getting married before they are 18 years old. Globally, the rates of child marriage are slowly declining but progress isn't happening fast enough.