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Advocacy Groups Push For More Efforts To End Child Marriage

“Advocacy groups are urging for partnerships between governmental organizations and private sector businesses to better prevent child marriage and combat the economic, development and health problems it causes,” Inter Press Service reports. “A recently released report by Rachel Vogelstein, a fellow at the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the non-partisan think tank Council on Foreign Relations, highlights strategic and moral reasons for U.S. involvement in the issue,” IPS writes, noting, “According to the United Nations, in 2011 almost 70 million women — or one in three women between the ages of 20 and 24 — had been married under the age of 18.” The news service continues, “‘This is often just seen as the norm in many countries. That’s just how life has been,’ Lakshmi Sundaram, global coordinator of a London-based advocacy group, Girls Not Brides, told IPS,” adding, “He pointed to economic reasons for early marriages, noting, ‘In most countries there are dowry systems in place, and marrying your daughter off means you have one less mouth to feed.'”

“The majority of the 25 countries with the highest child marriage rates have fragile governments or face a high risk of natural disaster, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Niger,” according to IPS, which adds, “All but four countries have a minimum age of legal marriage, ranging from 15 to 18,” and “[s]everal countries have a provision allowing younger children to be married with the consent of the parent.” “According to the study, eliminating child marriages offers economic and developmental benefits to both individual countries and the United States,” IPS writes, noting, “The study called for the U.S. government to acknowledge that child marriage is a barrier to security and to encourage the efforts of other countries to tackle this issue internally” (8/1). The Washington Post’s “World Views” blog examines “several facts about child brides and what they face, compiled from a Human Rights Watch brief and other sources” (Fisher, 8/1).