The rate of child marriages in Bangladesh could drop by a third when girls are educated and taught job skills, according to a study released Wednesday on ways to counter the practice rampant in the South Asian nation.
Two out of three girls in South Asia marry before age 18, according to the Population Council, a nonprofit group that researches health and development issues.
In a study of more than 9,000 Bangladeshi girls, however, the child marriage rate dropped 31 percent when girls received educational tutoring or took classes in critical thinking and decision-making, it said.
The rate dropped by 23 percent when girls were given job skills training, it found.
“In Bangladesh, limited evidence exists on what works to delay child marriage,” said Ann Blanc, vice president of the Population Council, in a statement. “These results are a major leap forward.”
Bangladesh has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, behind Niger, and the highest rate of marriage of girls under age 15, according to a 2014 report by UNICEF.
It said three-quarters of girls in Bangladesh marry before they are 18.
In its study, the New York-based group provided education and training to girls in 72 communities.
Worldwide, more than 700 million females got married before their 18th birthday, according to UNICEF.