This week’s Health Check comes from Ethiopia, where girls as young as 5, though often between the ages of 9 and 14 are married to men ten or twenty years older than them. If they are in school, their education will stop, often having children while still very young with serious health complications like fistula or even death

Many marriages are sanctioned by children’s parents, but in some cases young girls are abducted, raped and the parents obliged to let the abductor marry their daughter.

Claudia finds out about government and charity efforts to prevent child marriage and increased awareness among communities. She talks to young women about their experiences of early marriage and what happens to the few who leave their husbands. Despite changes in the law to punish offenders, the problem remains endemic, with devastating health, social and psychological consequences.

This edition of Health Check was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service on 20th July 2011. For more broadcast details or to listen online, please visit bbc.co.uk.

More about childhood

Health in Ethiopia

Take it further