Today’s release of Equality Now’s global child marriage report, Protecting the Girl Child: Using the Law to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Related Human Rights Violations, clearly illustrates that child marriage does not take place within a vacuum. It is part of a continuum of abuse experienced by a girl and is often linked with female genital mutilation, sex trafficking or force-feeding before marriage, but also rape, domestic violence, and denies them future opportunities.
“Child marriage directly affects approximately 14 million girls a year. It legitimizes human rights violations and the abuse of girls under the guise of culture, honor, tradition, and religion. It is part of a sequence of discrimination that begins at a girl’s birth and continues throughout her entire life. Furthermore, when a child bride gives birth, the vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability, disregard for rule of law and legal and other discrimination often continues into the next generation, especially for any daughters she may have,” said Jacqui Hunt, London Director, Equality Now
Ending child marriage internationally should be a global priority and included within the post-2015 development framework. At the national level, a comprehensive, joined-up approach is essential, which links the justice sector with healthcare, education, community and other leaders. Such an initiative should tackle child marriage not as a single abuse, but rather related to other manifestations of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
Without such structural frameworks in place, which recognize child marriage as part of a harmful cycle of abuse, girls will remain vulnerable not only to being married off at a young age, but to a lifetime of abuse.
Equality Now’s report was complemented by an annex, written in conjunction with research facilitated by TrustLaw Connect, carried out by Latham & Watkins LLP, in collaboration with AQLAAL Advocates (Pakistan), Ashurst Australia (Papua New Guinea), Bafakih & Nassief Lawyers and Legal Consultants (Saudi Arabia), Dr Kamal Hossain & Associates (Bangladesh), Kirthi Jayakumar (India), MMAKS Advocates (Uganda), P&A Asia (Cambodia), Tilleke & Gibbins (Thailand) and Webber Wentzel (Swaziland).
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