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Child Brides Robbed of Their Future

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
October 11, 2013
cnn.com

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One year ago, Taliban gunmen in Pakistan boarded a school van and shot Malala Yousafzai, then 15, for speaking out for girls' education. Malala survived the tragedy, and her courageous story of a teenage girl who would not be silenced inspired tens of millions more in the fight for girls' rights.

As Malala said in July during her historic address at the United Nations, "I raise up my voice -- not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard."

And as the world marks International Day of the Girl on Friday, it is worth remembering all those young girls, the same age as Malala and some even younger, whose voices go unheard: the millions of child brides around the world robbed of their youth and their rights, including the chance at education.

The world will never know the talent it loses to early forced marriages. Most of the world's child brides reside in Malala's home region of South Asia. In her native Pakistan, almost one-fourth of the country's girls find themselves in unions or marriages by age 18. India, Pakistan's neighbor to the east, has more child brides than any other country in the world, with 47% of all of the country's more than 600 million girls married before their 18th birthday.

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