Those risks are often substantial and the problem goes much deeper than you might think. Here, then, are several facts about child brides and what they face, compiled from a Human Rights Watch brief and other sources.
1. Child brides often die from pregnancy or childbirth
Child brides often become child mothers, frequently before their bodies are completely ready. In developing countries, where almost all child marriages take place, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the No. 1 cause of death for girls age 15 to 19. That means that pregnancy and childbirth kill more girls in the developing world than war, AIDS, tuberculosis or any other cause.
The reason that pregnancy and childbirth kill so many girls is that their bodies are not ready. In developing countries, a girl or woman is twice as likely to die in childbirth if she’s age 15 to 19 than she is if she’s in her 20s. Girls under the age of 15 are five times as likely to die. Statistically, Nada al-Ahdal had real reason to fear that her marriage could kill her.
2. Child brides are typically far from equal partners in their marriage
This might seem like an obvious point, but its implications can be more pervasive than you might think. Keep in mind that husbands to child brides are typically adults and may have often paid her parents for the privilege; many activists consider child marriages to be a form of human trafficking, i.e. the buying and selling of human beings.
This dynamic can leave the child brides as the subject of their husbands, rather than their partners, which is why some activists argue that sex in such marriages should not be considered consensual.