As Laos inches closer to economic default, underage girls face a higher risk of child marriage

Houa* sat on the doorstep of her bamboo house helping her grandmother pluck a chicken. She is not even ten years old, but she is learning how to become a ‘good wife.’

As the Covid pandemic and economic crisis hit the family hard, Houa dropped out of school in 2021 and started learning how to run a household in preparation for her upcoming wedding. 

“She will be married in about two years,” Houa’s mother said. “We need her to be home and learn how to take care of the house so she can take care of her husband.” 

Houa will soon be handed to a 15-year boy, 17 by the time of the wedding. He’s from Houa’s village, a small rural settlement of around 30 families in the northeastern province of Houaphan, Laos.  

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