Violence againts women takes a dismaying variety of forms, from domestic abuse and rape to child marriages and female circumcision. All are violations of the most fundamental human rights.
The Elders, an independent group of world leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, are working hard towards ending child marriage. It is estimated that every day about 25,000 girls under the age of 18 are married, according to the Elders. There are many risks involved in child marriage; the girls are more prone to injury or even death due to early sexual activity and childbearing. The girls are also more vulnerable to HIV infection, domestic violence and are less likely to finish their education, which increases the likelihood that the girl will live in poverty for the rest of her life.
Forcing girls to marry at a young age is also a violation of the fundamental rights of girls. Several UN bodies and conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC), consider 18 to be the minimum age when a young person is able to make a significant life decision such as marriage.
The Girl Effect, a campaign run by the Nike Foundation, is also focusing on ending child marriage. On their website you can find many different ways to get involved in ending child marriage. This is a serious issue; a 12-year old girl is not yet a woman and has the right not to be forced into marriage at such an early age. Let’s all take action, as the Elders and the Girl Effect amongst others have done, and end child marriage now.
Written by Nada Al Omair, intern
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