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UK Parliamentarians call for action on child marriage

27/11/2012

Young girl carrying baby in sling in ZimbabweA group of UK parliamentarians is calling for action to help end child marriage. It recommends the minimum legal age for marriage should be raised to 18 across the globe, including in the UK, and that all religious marriages should be registered. The group is urging governments around the world to help prevent millions of girls becoming child brides.

Our Because I am a Girl campaign aims to support four million girls to stay in education and fulfil their potential. Early marriage can end girls’ chances of completing their education – and can put them at greater risk of isolation, violence and death in childbirth. You can help us keep up the pressure on the UK government to lead action to end child marriage by signing our Take the Vow petition.

Plan made formal submissions to the parliamentary inquiry and the cross-party group of MPs and peers has published a report: ‘A Childhood Lost’. The report is intended to persuade ‘governments to take urgent action to protect girls from the consequences of being married and becoming mothers while they are still children themselves’.

Abuse of human rights

Commenting on the launch of the report, Plan UK CEO Marie Staunton says, “Marriage imposed by force upon a girl or boy is an abuse of their human rights and restricts their choices. Plan works across developing countries with some the highest incidence of child marriage in the world. The plight of underage brides, and the negative impact forced matrimony has on their lives, are issues we are familiar with.”

She adds, “We fully endorse UK Parliamentarians’ call for action to protect girls who are most at risk of being coerced to wed. We particularly welcome their call for measures to make registration of all matrimony compulsory and for Government statutes that protect girls and boys from being married before the age of 18.

“Legal protection alone may not eliminate the practice of child marriage but it provides a basic platform for successful intervention. Stopping the practice of the early and forced marriage of girls requires empowering individuals and communities to address discrimination against girls and unacceptable levels of poverty that make it widespread.”

Young girl carrying baby in EthiopiaThe parliamentary group is calling on the Department for International Development (DFID) to conduct research into the prevalence and practice of child marriage, evaluate existing work to prevent it to ensure that UK aid is spent effectively and to scale up effective programmes to prevent child marriage and support survivors. “Eliminating child marriage requires analysis of the levels of the practice in countries and regions where it is most prevalent and the knock-on effect it has on international efforts to reduce poverty.  It is crucial DfID and other donors scale up aid projects that adopt this approach.”

The report makes various recommendations for the UK, including training for professionals to identify girls at risk, making girls’ rights regarding marriage and sexual relationships in the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum, compulsory registration of all religious marriages as well as the increase in the minimum legal age for marriage to 18.

Find out more about our Because I am a Girl campaign and Take the Vow to end child marriage.

Watch a series of films about Plan's work to end child marriage.

 

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