Target: Ms. Justine Greening, International Development Secretary of Britain
Goal: Commend British government for commitment to ending child marriage in Syria
A year ago, one in eight Syrian refugee girls were married before the age of 16. With the intensifying of the conflict in Syria, that number has ballooned to one in five. They are often married to men who are much older than them, many of whom they have never met. Some move out of the refugee camps, or even to different countries, and will never see their families again. Britain’s international development secretary, Justine Greening, is looking to change those figures by setting up a Girls’ Summit to be hosted by Prime Minister, David Cameron. Ms. Greening’s work and commitment to ending childhood marriage for refugee girls is commendable and should be applauded.
Parents in Syria arrange marriages for their underage daughters for a variety of reasons. Some may believe that their daughters will be safer and have better lives further away from the violence, while for others it is an economic choice to secure a dowry and be financially responsible for one less child. Refugee girls, some as young as nine years old, do not deserve to be moved from their homeland, lose all prospects for gaining an education or independent employment, and they certainly do not deserve to be forced into a marriage to which they are unable to consent.
At the summit, British officials will work with human rights organizations such as Unicef to generate economic solutions for those in refugee camps. The hope is that with economic incentives and increased job opportunities for men in refugee camps, marrying off their daughters before the age of 16 will cease to be an avenue for financial stability. Officials will urge economic partners to discourage child marriage by providing programs that teach skills to male refugees.
Dear Justine Greening,
The number of Syrian girls in refugee camps forced to marry before they are even sixteen years old is deplorable. Although their parents may see this as the best way to improve their daughters’ lives or protect them from sexual violence, there must be a better alternative. No nine-year-old girl should be forced into marriage and denied an education.
I am writing today to commend your work to end this practice and to thank you for your instrumental role in organizing the upcoming Girls’ Summit to be hosted by David Cameron. Your commitment to the welfare of these girls is to be applauded. Thank you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: russavia via wikimedia commons.