International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (HR 3
Introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) in the U.S.
House of Representatives and
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in the U.S. Senate
>>Read the IWHC statement about the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing and read Adrienne Germain's statement for the record submitted to the Commission.
>>Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum continues to speak out on the importance of preventing child marriages. Read her latest effort at drawing attention to the issue and legislation here during the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on July 15, 2010.
>>Read the media release on this bill online, in Word, and in PDF form.
>>Read the media release on passage of provisions of this bill online, in Word, and in PDF form.
What Is It
Why You Should Support It
What it is>>
What Is It>>
This bill seeks to eliminate child marriage - which is often unlawful and in violation of human rights - by expanding investments at the community level to empower girls, promoting community understanding about the harmful impact of child marriage, and requiring the U.S. government to develop a strategy to prevent child marriage. The State Department will also be required to report on the issue of child marriage in its annual Human Rights Report. Child marriage undermines U.S. investments in foreign assistance to improve women's and girls' education, health, economic and legal status. The bill will provide such sums as necessary for five years to support child marriage prevention programs in high incident countries.
Why You Should Support It>>
Why you should support it>>
Promote the human right of marrying with free and full consent.
In places where child marriage is practiced, girls rarely have any say in when and whom they marry. They are often physically and psychologically unprepared
for this responsibility. And given that child marriage is often the community norm - and girls and women are already undervalued - it is unlikely that girls are empowered to voice their objections to the marriage. Once married, these young girls are given limited autonomy, removed from continued education and often face a greater risk of violence within marriage.
Help promote sexual and reproductive health.
When parents of a girl - often only 8 or 10 or 12 years old - marry her off, more often than not it is to a man two or three times her own age. Even when the age disparity is less than that, he is likely to have been sexually active prior to the wedding, and may continue on to have multiple partners. At that age, a girl's knowledge about sexuality and reproduction is limited, and she will become part of a sexual relationship that includes unprotected sex, and a strong community desire for her to produce a child right away (preferably a boy). Delaying marriage and providing quality sexuality education will help reduce maternal mortality and other illnesses, obstetric fistula, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, while improving the health of future children. In many developing countries, the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 are complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The risk grows for girls married at age 14 and younger
- their chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth is five times that of those aged 20-24.
And prevent HIV.
Closely linked to the points above, child marriage increases the risk of contracting HIV. In developing countries, most sexually active adolescent girls are married, and have higher rates of HIV infection than sexually active girls who are not married. Among 15- to19-year-old girls in Kisumu, Kenya, nearly 33% of married girls were HIV positive
, compared to 22.3% of their sexually active, unmarried peers. Sex in marriage is more frequent and often unprotected - due to girls' lack of power and/or a desire for children.
Introduced in the House by Rep.
Betty McCollum on 4/27/09 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign
Affairs. In the House of Representatives, provisions of the bill were included
in the State Department Reauthorization bill, which passed on June 10, 2009.
The free standing child marriage legislation was introduced in the Senate on
5/6/09 and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. On September
21, 2010, the legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee and then on December1,2010, passed unanimously by the full
Senate. The House of Representatives voted on the bill on December 16
using a procedure called suspension, which requires the support of two thirds
of those present for it to pass. By a vote of 241
in favor and 166 opposed the bill failed as it did not garner the support
from two thirds of those voting.
Help build support for this vital legislation. Make a phone call today:
Contact your Representative and Senators
and ask him or her to co-sponsor the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. Click here
to find the contact information for your Representative and here
to find your Senators.