Marriage sets the course of a girl’s reproductive life in Pakistan. While the age of first marriage for women overall has been increasing in the country 13% of girls are married by the time they are 15 and 40% by age 18. There are social and health impacts on her life.
When married early, girls are in effect denied opportunities of education and broadening their horizons are ill prepared for their roles as informed mothers, and inadequately equipped to face livelihoods demands.
They are also denied the right recognized in religion, to “free and full” consent to a marriage. Unable to refuse unprotected sex, these young women are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases placing their babies too at high risk.
A direct consequence of young age marriage is early childbirth and greater vulnerability to related complications especially morbidities like fistula.
The top three causes for maternal death in Pakistan are:
- Post-partum hemorrhage (excessive bleeding),
- Sepsis (major infection),
- And eclampsia (hypertensive disorder)
These are found to have greater prevalence in teen pregnancies due to biological and physiological factors.
Teenage mothers are in greater danger of not gaining sufficient weight, suffering from vitamin deficiencies, becoming anemic and developing preeclampsia.