In the News

15 October 2012

On World’s First International Day of the Girl Child, UN Calls for End to Child Marriage

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Soon-to-be-wed Faiz Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam Haider, 11, at her home in a rural village in Afghanistan. © Stephanie Sinclair/VII/Tooyoungtowed.org

UNITED NATIONS, New York --- The United Nations today marked the first International Day of the Girl Child by calling for an end to child marriage, and stressing education as one of the best strategies for protecting girls against this harmful practice.

“Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. “When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families.”

If current trends continue, the number of girl child marriages will increase dramatically over the next 10 years, according to Marrying too Young: End Child Marriage, a new report released today by UNFPA. It also finds that, despite laws to prevent its practice, child marriage has remained mostly constant in developing countries in the past decade.

The report calls on governments and leaders to end child marriage by: enacting and enforcing national laws that raise the age of marriage to 18, for both girls and boys; using data to identify and target geographic “hotspots,” which have high numbers of girls at risk of child marriage; expanding prevention programmes that empower girls at risk of child marriage and address the root causes underlying the practice; and mitigating the harmful impact of child marriage on girls.

“A girl should have the right to choose whom she marries and when,” UNFPA’s Executive Director, Babatunde Osotimehin, said at the launch at UN Headquarters in New York, adding that the report is “a clarion call to decision-makers, to parents, to communities and to the world to end the unacceptable practice of child marriage now.”

Read the full story from the UN News Centre