The nascent work reviewed in this compendium indicates that married girls experience significant social isolation and limited autonomy. Across the studies examined, on indicators of mobility, exposure to media, and social networks, married girls are consistently disadvantaged compared to their unmarried peers. Similarly, across studies, on most of the domains explored here (mobility, decision-making, control over economic resources, and possibly gender-based violence), married girls tend to be less empowered and more isolated than slightly older married females. There may also be health issues associated with marriage during adolescence. Married girls are frequently at a disadvantage in terms of reproductive health information—particularly regarding STIs and HIV. First-time mothers, many of whom are adolescents, by virtue of their parity may have distinct maternal health needs and risks. Finally, early marriage potentially plays a role in exposing girls and young women to severe reproductive health risks, including HIV. Many of these elevated health risks may be largely, though not exclusively, derivative of their social vulnerability.
Haberland, Nicole, Erica Chong, and Hillary J. Bracken. 2004. "Married adolescents: An overview," paper prepared for the WHO/UNFPA/Population Council Technical Consultation on Married Adolescents. New York: Population Council.