Monday, December 6, 2010

Landmark Legislation to Prevent Child Marriage is On the Move!

On December 1st, the US Senate unanimously passed the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act- a bill to protect girls in developing countries from early marriages. Girls as young as twelve can be married in many countries, which puts them at a great disadvantage for their health, education, and well-being.
“Tens of millions of women and girls around the world have lost their dignity, independence and lives due to child marriage,” said Senator Durbin, who first introduced the bill. “Child marriage denies these women and girls of an education, economic independence and is the root cause of many of the world’s most pressing development issues – HIV/AIDS, child mortality, and abject poverty. This bill is a powerful statement of our priorities as a nation and something that will change the lives of millions in some of the world’s forgotten places.”
The legislation will require the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent child marriage, with the goal of eliminating the practice worldwide. The bill also seeks to promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of women and girls, and ensure that child marriage is globally recognized as a human rights violation.
UNICEF estimates that 60 million girls in developing countries now aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. If current trends continue, this number will increase by 100 million over the next decade. This past summer, YUGA members learned about child marriage at YUGA Leadership Camp and several YUGA youth delivered 11,500 letters signed by our supporters to Congress. Now that the bill is on the brink of becoming law, we need even more support to ensure that it gets passed!

Urge your Representatives to approve the legislation. Send pictures, make a phone call, or find other creative ways to let your Representatives know that the bill should be passed. Make sure that everyone you know understands the importance of this bill, and that they should urge their Representatives to pass the bill, too! To find out who your state’s representative is, visit https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.

Click here for more information about Plan’s work and the Preventing Child Marriage Act.

You may also want to read an Op-Ed in the Washington Post from Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, about child marriage.

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