Child marriage, an unspoken kind of violence – International Day of the Girl 2014
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When Kalinde married at the age of 15, she was told to respect her husband and “never deny him sex.” She found herself trapped in a marriage that she did not want and over which she had little control. Every year, 15 million other girls face a similar fate.
On 11 October, the world celebrates International Day of the Girl, a chance to reflect on the challenges that girls face daily around the world. This year’s theme, “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”, offers an opportunity to call for action on child marriage, a practice that has violent consequences for girls.
Child marriage is violence against girls
According to the World Health Organisation, one in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. Child marriage is a manifestation of that violence, putting women and girls at risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence throughout their lives.
Ela Bhatt of The Elders describes the unspoken, yet very real, kind of violence presented by child marriage as one that is happening “with the consent of society.”
Accelerating change to end child marriage
2014 has been an important year for efforts to end child marriage. The African Union launched a continental campaign to end child marriage in Africa, the Girl Summit saw an unprecedented number of countries committing to address the issue, and a number of leaders have recognised child marriage as a critical issue to the post-2015 development agenda.
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