Senator Boxer: Child Marriage Undermines Foreign Assistance Programs
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I am pleased to tell you that I have joined Senators Dick Durbin and Olympia Snowe in supporting legislation that seeks to end the harmful practice of child marriage in developing countries. The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, S.987, would require the U.S. government to develop an integrated strategic approach to reduce, and ultimately end, the practice of child marriage.
It is estimated that there are 51 million married girls in the world today. Over the next decade, as many as 100,000 more girls could be married as children. Child marriage is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of South Asia, and the Middle East. In countries such Chad, Niger, and Bangladesh, the marriage rate for children under 18 is roughly 70 percent.
Child marriage significantly increases risks of death in childbirth, infant mortality, obstetric fistulas, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In addition, women who are forced to marry at a young age generally enjoy much lower economic independence and productivity and are far less likely to be educated.
I am proud to support this legislation because child marriage not only violates basic human rights; it also undermines larger U.S. foreign assistance efforts because of its negative impact on girls’ health and future livelihood.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer