In the Amhara regional state of Ethiopia, 50 percent of girls are married before the age of 15.1 Many are betrothed even earlier and sent to live with their future husband’s family by the age of nine or ten. Early marriage is one of many harmful traditional practices that are particularly prevalent in rural areas, along with female genital cutting, abduction, and unattended births.
The effects of early marriage are devastating. Girls married young suffer major disadvantages physically, emotionally, economically, and socially. Dr. Eskael Petros, the attending OB/GYN at Debremarkos Hospital, says “I face the complications of early marriage every day. Medically speaking, these girls are not well grown. During an obstructed labor the girl will labor for three to four days before the family brings her in, at which point the fetus is usually dead and the birth canal is often atrophied and torn.”