Jakarta: Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Kung Phoak have stated that child marriages have threatened the life and future of women across the world.
"We must get involved in ending these dangerous practices, specifically about child, early, and forced marriage, so called as CEFM," Phoak noted at a discussion on child, early, and forced marriage in the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Wednesday.
Phoak revealed that child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) and teen pregnancies are pervasive global phenomena.
At the global level, more than 14 million girls are married off each year as children each year. According to data compiled by the United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Children's Fund, the prevalence of child marriages and early unions as well as teen pregnancies in Southeast Asia remains high.
The percentage of women, aged 20 to 24, who were married or in a union before the age of 18, ranges from 35.4 percent in Lao to 17 percent in Indonesia and 11 percent in Vietnam.
These figures showed the widespread practice, Phoak noted.
"CEFM becomes an interesting challenge in the ASEAN, and CEFM must be addressed immediately," Phoak noted.
In the same token, the adolescent birth rates in Southeast Asia have generally remained stagnant or even increased despite the declining rates at the global level, with wide-ranging variations between countries.
Permanent Representative of Malaysia to ASEAN Dato' Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa said that child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and discrimination.
"The drivers and root causes of child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) vary significantly across regions and even within countries. But in nearly every context, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and discrimination," she said
Other drivers of CEFM include social and cultural norms and traditions with deeply entrenched beliefs around roles and values ascribed to women and girls.
Additionally, economic factors and systemic circumstances, such as the lack of opportunities for young people, particularly girls, to gain financial independence and engage in the social and public arena, drive families to force children to marry early. (Antara)