I visited almost a dozen of these villages to meet some of the child brides of Petén for the latest Too Young to Wed transmedia project, this one a partnership with the United Nations Population Fund. Guatemala was the 10th country I had worked in documenting the issue of child marriage since 2003, after a chance encounter with several young brides in Afghanistan.
Child marriage is pervasive in more than 50 countries, with girls in rural areas of developing nations especially vulnerable. In the villages of Guatemala, around 53 percent of women age 20 to 24 were married before age 18, and 13 percent before age 15, according to the Population Council. Many of these girls faced harsh consequences, similar to those of child brides in other developing nations. They had withdrawn from their educations, some as early as elementary school; were subject to physical and sexual violence; risked dangerous pregnancies and went without crucial medical care. Many aspects of their lives were controlled by older men who considered the girls little more than sexual and domestic servants."
Read article by Stephanie Sinclair from The New York Times.