Census figures from 2010 show that nearly 43,000 children under 14 years of age are living with a partner in Brazil in defiance of laws forbidding these unions.
Brazil's penal code prohibits marriage with children under 14 and defines sex with them as statutory rape.
Helen Sanches is president of the Brazilian Association of Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders in Juvenile Court. She was quoted by the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper Tuesday as saying that it's not uncommon for families to ask the court for permission to marry off a daughter younger than 14. She says many are unaware that it is against the law.
The states in which these unions are most common have the country's lowest per-capita income.