US Denies Funds That Could Stem Child Marriage

The Bush Administration’s withdrawal of funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has negative consequence for the battle against child marriage. Since July 2002, the Bush Administration has withdrawn $34 million annual for the UNFPA, a major played in the fight to eradicate child marriage, based on false allegations that the UNFPA participated in coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization in China.

According to the Kaisernetwork, child marriage affects over 51 million girls in developing countries and puts women at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or developing health complications, such as obstetric fistula, from becoming pregnant at an early age. When girls are married to older men, which is common in places in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the wives are often less able to negotiate the use of condoms due to the lack of a balance of power in the relationship. According to Geeta Rao Gupta of the International Center for Research on Women, child marriage also perpetuates poverty because girls stop going to school after they are married resulting in a loss of economic opportunities.

According to the Chicago Tribune, approximately 100 million girls will be married before the age of 18 worldwide.

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Chicago Tribune 12/13/04, 12/12/04,12/8/04; Kaisernetwork 12/14/04, 12/9/04

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