Protecting the Girl Child: Using the Law to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Related Human Rights Violations

“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

Building on the body of Equality Now’s work for the protection of girls’ and women’s rights, Protecting the Girl Child illustrates the impact of child marriage through 11 case studies and includes an analysis of the laws and issues surrounding child marriage from 18 countries. The report calls on all governments to support a comprehensive response to end child marriage and ensure a girl is healthy, safe, educated and empowered and her rights are protected.

The report was written in conjunction with pro bono support from TrustLaw Connect and carried out by law firm Latham & Watkins, 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).

Design by Advocacy International.

Images by Stephanie Sinclair/VII, Marcus Bleasdale/VII, Suzanna Finley, A. Gichigi, Pierre Holtz, Piotr Lewandowski, Paul Munene, Ruth Njeng’ere and Russell Watkins.

This publication was supported in part by Chime for Change, founded by GUCCI.

Equality Now is a member of Girls Not Brides (GNB), sits on the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Adolescent Girls and served on the Council on Foreign Relations’ child marriage advisory group for its May 2013 report, Ending Child Marriage.