International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (HR 3175)
Introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
What is it
Why you should support it
What it is >>
This bipartisan 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. 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 $25 million a year for five years to child marriage prevention programs countries with high rates of child marriage.
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 with multiple partners afterward. 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/AIDS), 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 chances of dying in pregnancy or childbirth is five times that of those aged 20-24.
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.
Bill Status >>
Introduced in the House 7/25/2007.
Take Action >>
Help build support for this vital legislation. Make a phone call today:
Contact your Representative
and ask him or her to co-sponsor the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. Click here
to find your Representative and his or her contact information.