The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) launched a Week of Action against Child Marriage on Capitol Hill yesterday. This week of action aims to encourage US lawmakers to pass 2 prevention of child marriage bills, according to Women’s eNews. One of these bills, HR3175 (see PDF), would establish a fund that would grant money to USAID missions focused on preventing forced child marriage.
The week also coincides with the 2008 UN Commission of the Status of the Rights of Women, where the UN plans to examine the Secretary General”s Report on forced marriage.
The Population Council estimates that one-third of girls living in the developing world, excluding China, are married before the age of 18, and one in seven girls in the developing world marry before they turn 15. The Population Council says that if present conditions of child marriage continue unchecked, over 100 million girls will be married within the next ten years.
The centerpiece of the Week of Action against Child Marriage is this year”s UNICEF Photo of the Year photo by Stephanie Sinclair, an American freelance photographer. The photo depicts a forty-year-old man marrying an eleven-year-old girl in Afghanistan. The girl”s parents explained to Sinclair that, “We needed the money.”
Eva Luise Kohler, UNICEF patron, said of Sinclair”s photo at the awards ceremony, “The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 raises awareness about a worldwide problem. Millions of girls are married while they are still underage. Most of these child brides are forever denied a self-determined life.”