(CNSNews.com) -- According to a Gallup survey, approximately 7.3 million people in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were married before the age of 16, and an additional 15.5 million Pakistanis got married before they were 18. Gallup calls this "child marriage" for its survey purposes.
Gallup focused on three countries -- Paksitan, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia -- and "asked people aged 15 and older what age they were when they started living with their first spouse or partner."
"Based on their responses, we estimate that there are 19 million women and men in these three countries who married or entered a union before the internationally accepted age of 18," said Gallup. "Of these, Pakistan alone accounts for nearly 16 million, or 13% of its 15-and-older population."
The legal age for marriage in Pakistan is 16 for women and 18 for men. Cambodians can marry at age 16 with parental permission. In Myanmar, with parental permission, kids can marry as early as age 14.
In Myanmar, an estimated 700,000 people married bfore age 16, and 2.7 million married before age 18. In Cambodia, 100,000 married before age 16 and 700,000 married bfore age 18.
"Child marriage affects both genders, but it is most potentially damaging to a girl's development," said Gallup.
"Child brides often drop out of school and become pregnant, and these early pregnancies have a greater risk of ending in maternal or infant death," said Gallup. "Child brides are also at greater risk of sexual violence, abuse, social isolation and exploitation."
Gallup released its survey on Oct. 25, 2017.