Marriage is celebrated as a happy milestone of adult life all over the world. But for children who are forced to marry, the event marks a premature and often cruel end to their childhood.
Child marriage separates children from their family and friends, takes them out of school, and robs them of the freedom to just be kids.
But the damaging effects of this practice do not end there. Girls married at a young age also face serious health risks - a girl under age 16 is five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman between the ages of 20 to 24. Childhood pregnancy may also lead to stunting for both mother and baby.
Though the United States supports many programs that assist children and mothers, there is no specific U.S. Government strategy or funding plan to focus on the problem of child marriage or to help girls who are already married.
Tell your Member of Congress to prevent child marriage by cosponsoring H.R. 6087!
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am writing to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 6087, the bipartisan International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2012.
Child marriage is a harmful traditional practice and a violation of human rights. Even so, it is a fact of life for too many children around the world. In some areas of the world, marriage at age 10--or even younger--is not uncommon. Child marriage often leads to separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education and economic participation.
Girls married at a young age face serious health risks from pregnancy and childbirth. Girls under age 16 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women ages 20 to 24; girls ages 16 to 19 are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their twenties. In addition, childhood pregnancy may lead to stunting for both mother and baby.
[Your comments will be added here.]
There are proven approaches that help communities around the world abandon the practice of child marriage. This legislation would require the U.S. Government to incorporate strategies to fight child marriage into existing development, health, and education programs. It also authorizes funding for programs to prevent child marriage and to help children already married, and requires the State Department to include research on child marriage in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Please cosponsor H.R. 6087, and help ensure that our Government is a leader in addressing child marriage. I look forward to your response.
[Your name here]