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Understanding the impacts of child marriage on the health and well-being of adolescent girls and young women residing in urban areas in Egypt
Authors: Shatha Elnakib, May Elsallab, Maha Abdel Wanis, Shadia Elshiwy, Nishan Prasana Krishnapalan, Nada Aghar Naja
Source: Reproductive Health, DOI: 10.1186/s12978-021-01315-4
Topic(s): Child marriage
Reproductive health
Sexual behavior
Sexual health
Country: Africa
Published: JAN 2022
Abstract: Background: Egypt has made progress in delaying age at marriage, but child marriage continues to be practiced in many places across the country. This study investigates the impacts of child marriage on the health and wellbeing of girls residing in urban Egypt using a multi-method approach. Methods: The quantitative component leveraged data from the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey and focused on (1) reproductive health, (2) maternal health and (3) social outcomes among a subsample of ever-married urban women ages 20-24 (N = 1041). Simple and multivariable logistic regressions were used to estimate prevalence odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for associations between child marriage and the three sets of outcomes. The qualitative component drew from 11 focus groups, 23 in-depth interviews, and 13 key informant interviews conducted in three urban sites in Egypt. The data was thematically analyzed using a combination of inductive and deductive coding. Results: The prevalence of marriage under age 18 was 13.22%. Child marriage was significantly associated with ever use of contraception (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 2.95 95% CI 1.67-5.19), multiple births (AOR 12.93 95% CI 5.45-30.72), rapid repeat childbirth (AOR 2.20 95% CI 1.34-3.63), and pregnancy termination (AOR 1.89 95% CI 1.11-3.23). Many of these associations disappeared after adjusting for marriage duration. Girls married under age 18 had larger spousal age gaps (AOR 2.06; 95% CI 1.24-3.41) and higher odds of FGM (AOR 2.14; 95% CI 1.11-4.13). They were significantly more likely to report receiving no ANC care (AOR 0.39; 95% CI 0.19-0.80), and less likely to deliver through C-section (AOR: 0.53; 95% CI 0.34-0.83). Consequences emerging from the qualitative data centered around five themes: (1) Access to and use of sexual and reproductive health services; (2) exposure to FGM; (3) marriage and birth registration; (4) marital relations; and (5) relationship with in-laws. Conclusion: Findings provide important insights into the practice of child marriage in urban areas in Egypt and illustrate a range of adverse consequences associated with the practice.