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COMMENT | A business case for ending child marriage

COMMENT | The numbers are staggering. In July 2018, then deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh announced that 14,999 child marriages were recorded between 2007 and 2017, with approximately 10,000 of them being Muslims.

Government data since have revealed that an average of 1,500 children in the country marry annually, with girl brides making up approximately 90 percent. The numbers told us that even long before the Covid-19 pandemic, an average of four children got married every day in our country.

Since the pandemic though, there has been a worrying trend of underage marriages in the country. In 2020 alone, 445 children dropped out of school because of marriage. The poor monitoring and reporting of the number of child marriages currently happening in our country pose a serious social and economic threat to our country’s development ambitions.

But here is the question, what is all this costing us? According to the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), child marriage will cost developing countries to the tune of billions of dollars in healthcare and education costs, and this is on top of losses of potential earnings...

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