UN: Forced Child Marriage, Slavery Like Reality In Every Single Region In The World
Joint Statement by a group of UN human rights experts to mark the first International Day of the Girl Child
“Girls who are forced to marry are committed to being in slavery like marriages for the rest of their lives. Girls who are victims of servile marriages experience domestic servitude, sexual slavery and suffer from violations to their right to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence.
Every year an estimate of 10 million girls are married before they reach 18. In the most appalling of these cases, little girls as young as eight years old are being married off to men who may be three or four times their age.
Child marriage cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities; 46% of girls under 18 are married in South Asia; 38% in sub-Saharan Africa; 29% in Latin America and the Caribbean; 18% in the Middle East and North Africa; and in some communities in Europe and North America too.
Child marriage is a violation of all the rights of the child. It forces children, particularly girls, to assume responsibilities for which they are often physically and psychologically not prepared for.
Girls who are forced to marry face a life of violence in the home where they are physically and sexually abused, suffer from inhuman and degrading treatment and ultimately slavery.
Early marriages also impacts on girls’ right to education, health, and participate in the decisions that affect them. Girls who marry early often drop out of school, significantly reducing their ability to gain skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and to earn an income. An obstacle to girls’ and women’s empowerment, it also hinders their ability to lift themselves out of poverty.
Child brides are more likely to get pregnant at an early age and, as a result, face higher risk of maternal death and injury due to early sexual activity and childbearing.
A vast array of international instruments recognizes the right to free and full consent to marriage. In particular, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women states that the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, requires States parties to take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing practices that are harmful to children.
Today, on the first United Nations International Day on the Girl Child, we call on States to increase the age of marriage to 18 years of age for girls and boys without exception and adopt urgent measures to prevent child marriage. As with all forms of slavery, forced early marriages should be criminalized. They cannot be justified on traditional, religious, cultural or economic grounds.
However, an approach which only focuses on criminalization cannot succeed in effectively combating forced early marriages. This should go hand in hand with public awareness raising campaigns to highlight the nature and harm caused by forced and early marriages and community programmes to help detect, provide advice, rehabilitation and shelter where necessary. In addition, birth registration should be made universal to support proof of age and prevent forced early marriage.
On this International Day of the Girl Child, we remind States of their obligation to promote and protect the rights of girls and that harmful practices against girls, including early and forced marriage should be put to an end, in accordance with international law.
No girl should be forced to marry. No girl should be committed to servile marriage, domestic servitude and sexual slavery. No girl should suffer from violations to their right to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence. Not a single one.”
- Sunila Abeysekera Commemoration: Speech by Nimalka Fernando
- New Feminist Leadership Web Portal Offers Online Home to All Generations of Activists
- Syrian conflict: Untold misery of child brides
- Cameroon - Speaking Up Against Rape Is Just One Part of the Solution
- Turkey struggles with femicide as domestic violence mounts
- Support KMEWO in demanding Justice for Dunya!
- On May 28, International Day of Action for Women’s Health, Women’s Rights Defenders Mobilize Worldwide Calling for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
- Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds
- Urgent Action: Free Maryam Shafi’pour!
- URGENT: Maldives: Sex without Consent is always Rape
- Too Young to Wed
- Unspeakable Crimes Against Children: Sexual Violence in Conflict
- SOCIAL MEDIA COMBINED WITH OTHER MEDIA CAN BE EFFECTIVE FOR CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT & PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE ISSUES - WOMEN
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo*
- Disposable Victims: Laws and Practices on Gender-related Killings of Women and Girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran