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Commonwealth Members Urged To Stamp Out Child Marriage

Nairobi, 26th October 2011 –  Millions of girls throughout the Commonwealth are subjected to early and forced marriage and member states should do more to end the practice, say global children’s organisation, Plan International.

Plan International and the Royal Commonwealth Society have released the briefing paper Empowering Girls: what the Commonwealth can do to end early and forced marriage, ahead of October’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth.

Over half of the 20 Commonwealth countries have the highest rates of early and forced marriage in the world.

The paper highlights that early and forced marriage is one of the greatest ongoing barriers to girls’ education, maternal health and economic empowerment.  It calls for the Commonwealth countries to live up to their values and to do more to prevent young girls being forced to marry against their will and before they are ready.

Plan International CEO, Nigel Chapman says that early and forced marriage traps girls in a cycle of poverty, ill health and illiteracy: “Around the world, 10 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year – that’s one every three seconds.

 “Early and forced marriage re-enforces the cycle of poverty for girls and women and is one of the most significant barriers to reaching the Millennium Development Goal targets on infant and maternal health, universal primary education, poverty reduction and gender equality and empowerment.”

 “Breaking these cycles requires that we promote and protect the rights of girls. Girls who are married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sex, increased problems with their sexual and reproductive health, and are much more likely to miss out on their education and to be illiterate.

In countries across the commonwealth, Plan is working with governments and communities to end this practice and is urging governments to take more serious action on this pressing issue.

“Global consensus around the need to end early and forced marriage is building,” say the paper’s authors.

“If the Commonwealth acts now it can demonstrate the global moral leadership that can define its unique identity on a crowded international stage.”


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