The numbers are truly staggering.

In 2010, there were more than 67 million women in the developing world between the ages of 20 and 24 who had been married before their 18th birthdays.

If we do nothing, another 142 million girls will face the same fate over the next decade, according to a report released today—the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child—by the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

That’s nearly 39,000 girls a day—27 every minute—who could be robbed of a basic, fundamental human right: the right to self-determination, to choose their own destinies.

If that were the only consequence of child marriage, it would still be a practice worth ending.

But the 76-page report, titled “Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage,” makes clear that child marriage harms not only the girls themselves but entire communities.

Child marriage is at the heart of widespread poverty. Girls who…

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