Equality Now has been working to end the violent and abusive practice of child marriage since 1995. It is a human rights violation that legitimizes abuse of girls under the guise of culture, honor, tradition and religion. When a young girl is married and gives birth, a vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability and legal and other discrimination begins.
At the top levels of the United Nations, as well as by human rights organizations and civil society, ending child marriage has been identified as an important target in ending poverty and creating sustainable development. Therefore, as governments discuss a new universal post 2015 development agenda, the time is now for a global commitment to end child, early and forced marriage.
Equality Now’s report, Protecting the Girl Child: Using the Law to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Related Human Rights Violations (Jan. 2014), illustrates the impact of child marriage on a girl’s young life. Combined with research into the legal position of child marriage and surrounding issues in 18 countries, the picture presented is not encouraging. Once married, a girl is often trapped in a system where she is at risk of further violence and discrimination—violence and discrimination that frequently continues into the next generation. It is therefore critical that all governments support a comprehensive approach to end child marriage and stop the suffering and lost potential of millions of girls around the world.