Children's rights group warns child marriage is creeping into Europe

Plan International say 100 child brides were identified in Norway and Sweden

Child marriage, Europe, child brides, increase, Norway, Sweden, Plan International, Ireland, Mike Mansfield

Radha, who escaped an early marriage when she was 14, is a peer educator and a member of a Plan International-supported children's rights group | Image: Bas Bogaerts/Plan International

A child-rights organisation is warning that child marriage is on the rise in Europe.

Plan International Ireland says the country must be ready to act.

It says more than 100 child brides have been identified in Norway and Sweden over the past number of months.

The organisation is calling on the Irish government to be vigilant, and prepared to deal with the threat of child marriage.

It adds that many of the 1.3 million refugees, who now call Europe home, have been left broke financially following the expensive journey from their homelands.

"Like countless generations before, parents are being forced to choose between early marriages for their daughters or running out of money to feed, clothe and shelter their whole families", Plan International Ireland says.

Facts about child marriage:

  • Every year 15 million girls are married as children - that is 28 girls married every minute
  • If a girl marries before her 15th birthday, she is five times more likely to die during childbirth
  • 60% of child brides in low-income countries have had no formal education
  • One in three girls in the developing world were said to be married before the age of 18

"The 100 child brides identified to date is potentially only the tip of the ice-berg", says CEO of Plan International, David Dalton.

"In reality, with 442,000 children arriving into Europe in the past 12 months, there are thousands of child-brides living with their 'husbands' across the continent".

Certain EU governments and local authorities, in Norway and Sweden, have already issued directives that couples involving underage girls should be separated.

However, the charity says this is not being applied universally and many brides are being allowed to remain with their husbands.

Plan International Ireland believes that the Irish government must be ready to intervene if child marriages are identified here.

Mike Mansfield is the head of child sponsorship at Plan Ireland.