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I am writing to express my deep concern about the prevalence of child marriage in a number of countries around the world and the severe negative physical, emotional, psychological, educational and sexual implications of such marriage on girls, including death in some cases.
Child marriages violate the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse. Health-related impacts of early marriage and pregnancy according to the United Nations include higher risks of HIV infection, death in labor, septic abortion, still births, pregnancy-induced hypertension, puerperal sepsis and obstetric fistula. Early marriage also jeopardizes girls’ right to formal education, which ends upon marriage. Moreover, international research has shown that married girls have few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources and little or no power in their new households, and that domestic violence is common in child marriages.
The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009 (S. 987/H.R. 2103) authorizes U.S. foreign assistance programs to prevent child marriage and provide educational and economic opportunities for girls around the world. As a Senator, I urge you to cosponsor the Act and ensure that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes up the bill in September. Please take action on this issue so that efforts to eradicate child marriages, which undermine our government’s efforts to empower women around the world, can be expanded and girls around the world are given a better chance to realize their potential.
I thank you for your attention.