Target: United Nations
Goal: Take key steps in eliminating child marriage
Child marriage is a long-standing tradition in many parts of the world. However, ample evidence and first-hand accounts show this antiquated practice to be anything but benign. The United Nations must make ending child marriage a priority, which means enacting global laws that governments must follow.
According to the Human Rights Watch, a child marriage takes place when one or both parties are under the age of 18. Not so surprisingly, this practice devastates girls at a disproportionate rate. Child marriage violates many human rights including the right to education, the right to health care, freedom from domestic violence and the right to consensual marriage. Child marriage ensures that child brides will be lost to poverty, disease, violence and will never see the opportunity for educational or career advancement.
Child marriages have been documented in such places as Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Nepal, and South Sudan among others. “By 2020, 142 million innocent young girls worldwide will be separated from their friends and family, deprived of an education and put in harm’s way because of child marriage,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN Security General.
Girls who are forced to enter into child marriages get pregnant early, are most often subjected to violence at the hand of their spouse, and give up any hope of education or economic independence. Instead of helping girls who flee these conditions find refuge, governments more often than not will arrest and detain these girls, accusing them of “running away” and other seemingly nonsensical crimes.
The story of Faiza Ahmed most effectively portrays the negative impact child marriage can too often have on the life of a young bride. Ahmed, a Bangladeshi girl who did not know her own age but thought she was 15 or 16 at the time, was forced to marry after she finished class five. Soon after marriage, her husband began beating her and eventually poured acid on her face and back. “I had long hair. My hair used to be beautiful. Now it’s all burned. He burned my eyes. I cannot see properly anymore,” said Ahmed after her attack.
“Child marriage is almost always also forced marriage. It disrupts girls’ education and exposes them to domestic violence and preventable health crises,” explained Liesl Gerntholtz, of the Human Rights Watch. “By working to tackle and end the marriage of children, the UN and global governments will help protect the rights of women and girls worldwide.”
Sign below to demand action that will end child marriage. The United Nations must take steps to defend the rights of girls and women all over the world and bring down this obsolete, injurious practice.
Dear United Nations,
It is no secret that the tradition of child marriage is a widespread and supremely damaging one. Young girls who are forced to marry are doomed to live in poverty and experience patterns of violence throughout their lives. Their potentials become limited so early in life. Many are subjected to numerous pregnancies at a young age, which threatens their very lives. They are forced to drop out of school and surrender economic independence.
Child marriage is a human rights violation that must be addressed on a global level. As expressed by Babatunde Osotimehin, the UN’s own executive director of the population fund, “No country can afford the lost opportunity, waste of talent or personal exploitation that child marriage causes.” There are not only human rights ramifications to child marriage, but economic and cultural consequences as well.
It is in the best interest of the global female population and the general population to bring this practice to an end. Please enact global legislation that requires a minimum age of 18 to marry, and requires the consent of both parties.
[Your Name Here]
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