The shortage of prenatal and postnatal health care services, especially in Malawi’s rural areas, increases these risks.

Child marriage has a negative impact on girl’s and women’s realization of key human rights, including their rights to health, education, to be free from physical, mental, and sexual violence, and to marry only when they are able and willing to give their free and full consent.

The younger the age of marriage the more serious these impacts are.

refers to a union in which there is the absence of free and full consent of one or both parties.

It encompasses related harmful practices such as wife inheritance, bride kidnapping, girl-child compensation, and marriage as dispute settlement or debt payment, which are practiced in Malawi.

Some are as young as 9 or 10 when they are married.

Many Malawian communities see child marriage as being in the best interests of girls and their families.

Based on extensive interviews with girls and women in six districts in Central and Southern Malawi, and with government officials, magistrates, child protection workers, police officers in charge of child protection, traditional and religious leaders, health workers, and experts, this report describes factors contributing to child marriage, the severe consequences of child marriage, the risks that girls face when they resist these marriages, and the abuses they frequently face in marriage.

It also examines the absence of protection for victims of child marriage and the many obstacles they face in attempting to obtain redress; as well as shortcomings in existing programs to combat child marriage.

We also learned of cases in which child marriage led girls into commercial sexual exploitation and child labor.