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Education key to ending child marriage

Australian girls continue to be at risk of forced child marriage and female genital mutilation as new figures show keeping girls in education is to key to letting them grow up.

On the International Day of the Girl, a new report shows 50 million child marriages could be avoided in the next 12 years just by letting girls finish secondary school.

A Save the Children report released on Thursday shows while an estimated 25 million child marriages have been prevented over the past decade, no developing country is on track to meet the goal of wiping it out by 2030.

"A toxic combination of poverty and gender discrimination means many families conclude their daughters are better off becoming wives and mothers than getting an education," Save the Children International chief executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt said.

"When a girl gets married it doesn't just violate her rights once - the consequences last a lifetime.

"She is more likely to suffer abuse, more likely to become a mother before she is emotionally or physically ready and her children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday."

The latest Australian figures on forced or child marriage found cases in every state and territory.

Reports also estimate as many as 200,000 Australian women and girls have been victims of genital mutilation, with more added every day.

Ms Thorning-Schmidt said while education alone won't end child marriage, it is a critical piece of the puzzle in ending the abusive practice.

"Progress is being made but not fast enough,"

"On International Day of the Girl we urge governments to prioritise tackling child marriage, one of the major barriers to the empowerment and education of so many girls."

Save the Children wants governments to develop plans that include full access to health and protection for girls.

© AAP 2018