To mark international day of the girl and as part of our flagship Every Last Child campaign, Save the Children released Every Last Girl; a report which ranked countries in an index based on the best and worst places to be a girl. Our analysis showed that across the world, one girl under 15 is married every seven seconds.

A girl under 15 is married every seven seconds; others are forced to live a life of modern-day slavery. Around the world, girls are at risk of trafficking, forced labour and sexual violence – especially if a war, earthquake or flood tears their homes apart. And if a girl is married or pregnant before her body is ready, it could destroy her health, her choices and her dreams. A girl is not property. She should never be goods for sale.

We’re fighting to protect girls and their freedom. Because we want to build a world where every girl is free – where she has the power to make her own choices. Help us set girls free.

Khadra’s Story

Khadra*, 16, holds her two month old daughter Hodan* outside her family's home in Somalia. Khadra had just started secondary school and dreamed of becoming a doctor when she forced to marry a man who was much older than her and stop her education (*names changed to protect identity). She was very unhappy in the marriage and, after learning she was pregnant, she returned home and gave birth to a baby girl. “I went through primary school and when I reached high school, that is when my father married me off to a man,” says Khadra. “Then I dropped out of school. I didn't know that I had been given to a man until my aunt told me about it one day. At first I refused, but I finally had to accept my father's decision. We got married one monthe after our engagement and a few months after that I was pregnant. We had a conflict and we fought. I left him to live with my family when I was five months pregnant. I wanted to leave him because I was young and I wanted to go to school. I wanted to continue with school and go to university and become a doctor. Now I can't go to school because I have to care for my child. It's a bad idea to force young girls to marry and I would ask parents not to do that, and girls who give birth at a young age face a lot of health complications and it will affect them into their lives.”.Khadra's father and mother divorced over their recurring conflicts in which the mother disagreed with the father's decision to marry their daughters off at an early age. Khadra's mother eventually divorced her father and emigrated to Europe. When Khadra was twelve, her father married her off to a man who was over thirty years old. At the time, Khadra was in her first year of secondary school but she was forced to leave. Khadra's husband was a soldier who was often away for long periods. Khadra reports that he beat her and was physically abusive to her. After being married for a little less than a year, she decided to run away and she came back

When Khadra was 15, she was forced to marry a man who was over 30 years old. She was only in her first year of secondary school but she had to leave. “I wanted to continue with school and go to university and become a doctor.” Khadra’s husband beat her. By the time she left him, she was already pregnant. After she gave birth, Khadra was unconscious for 3 days. Her body suffered in labour and she is still in pain. She says that girls should not be forced to get married: “Girls who give birth at a young age face a lot of health complications.” Khadra was robbed of her freedom because she’s a girl. She was denied an education, and her health was put at risk. Discrimination changed her life forever.

Mina’s Story

(Front L-R) Manika  (12), Mina*  (7), and Sakshi  (7), listen to a teacher in a classroom in a village in Sindhupalchok, Nepal on 15 August 2016. Sindhupalchok was badly hit by the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, taking away lives, homes, and livelihoods, and putting the children here in further jeopardy of trafficking.   Sisters Nisha, Mina*, Manisha and Manika live with their parents in the temporary home that was built after the earthquake destroyed the family's house.   The girls attend a Child Friendly Space where Save the Children field staff inform girls about child trafficking dangers.

The village where Mina, seven, lives was devastated by the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Families, home and livelihoods were destroyed – meaning the children who live there are especially vulnerable.

Human traffickers trick girls like Mina into leaving their homes. They promise a good job or the chance to go to school. They tell them they’ll no longer be a burden to their families. Girls as young as nine are taken to the city, where they are treated like goods for sale, and sold into the sex trade. We’re doing whatever we can to protect girls from horrors such as this. Mina and her three sisters all attend what we call child friendly spaces. At these safe spaces, trained volunteers teach girls to understand the dangers of child trafficking before the threat becomes real.e.mcleod@savethechildren.org.uk.

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