International Day of the Girl Child calls for governments to fight child marriage

Outubro 11, 2012 às 9:00 am | Publicado em Uncategorized | Deixe um comentário
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Media Release da Unicef de 4 de Outubro de 2012.

UNICEF has joined forces with its UN partners and the international community in calling for an end to child marriage.

This week’s inaugural International Day of the Girl Child, on Thursday, October 11, 2012, will be marked by a call for government and the international community to legislate against child marriage.

UN agencies, including UNICEF, said child marriage was a fundamental human rights violation denying a girl of her childhood, disrupting her education and increasing her risk of exposure to violence and abuse.

Around the world a third of all women aged between 20 and 24 married before the age of 18. A third of these girls and women married before the age of 15.

“Worldwide UNICEF and our UN partners are advocating for governments to legalise a minimum age for girls to marry without consent,” UNICEF Australia chief executive officer Dr Norman Gillespie said.

Dr Gillespie said UNICEF research, confirmed by experiences from workers in the field, found child brides were at greater risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

However, where girls were given access to education, UNICEF experience also found girls were empowered to voice their opposition to marrying too young, and better understand their options in relation to their physical and sexual health.

“These young women and girls are often younger than their adult partners and less able to negotiate sexual relationships,” he said. “This places them at risk of sexually-transmitted infection and unwanted of frequent pregnancies – all of it impacting on their physical and mental health.”

“This is clearly compromising their human rights, let alone their rights as children” he said.

Dr Gillespie said UNICEF was working with the world’s most vulnerable children to deliver better ongoing educational opportunities.

“Where girls enter secondary education, their chances of marrying as a child are six times less likely,” he said.

“This makes education one of the best strategies for protecting girls.

“We call on Australians to look to the ways they can support girls around the world during this inaugural International Day of the Girl Child and point to our regular Global Parent donor program and the work UNICEF is doing with active partners like Girl Guides Australia and the Australian Child’s Rights Taskforce as examples of positive change empowering girls at home and around the world,” Dr Gillespie said.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD FACT BOX • October 11, 2012, is the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. • UN agencies, including UNICEF, have chosen to use this year’s inaugural Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness of child marriage. • Worldwide, a third of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. A third of these women were married before the age of 15. • The average age for Australian women to marry is 28 (ABS data: 2010) • Australia Bureau of Statistics research points to the easy access to higher education as one of the top reasons women deferred marriage. • The International Day of the Girl Child was declared by the United Nations General Assembly last year, on December 19, 2011. • UNICEF is a lead UN agency in promoting this day, along with UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). • Key social media hashtags: #endgirlmarriage #girlchild

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL: EXAMPLES OF UNICEF SUCCESS UNICEF has laid the groundwork in a number of countries, including the Phillipines and India, to prevent child marriage. In all instances, work at the local level alongside policy reform has had the most impact. In the Philippines and Azerbaijan, new laws have been passed to increase the age at marriage. In Niger, 173 cases of child marriage were brought to court for prosecution. And, in Senegal and The Gambia, public declarations to end child marriage were held in more than 700 communities in 2011 alone. In India, UNICEF supported the passage of the Child Marriage Prohibition Act of 2006. To donate to UNICEF visit www.unicef.org.au

ABOUT UNICEF UNICEF works in over 190 countries to promote and protect the rights of children. UNICEF is the world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries and supports child health and nutrition, the provision of clean water and sanitation, basic education for all boys and girls and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and HIV. In Australia, UNICEF works with government and advocate bodies to defend children’s rights and support international development programs. UNICEF receives no funding from the UN. It relies on the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Image caption: Khamma Devi uses posters and illustrated aids to explain the issues relating to child marriage for girls in the Himmatpura Village, Jodhpur District, Rajasthan. Picture: Anita Khemka, UNICEF

For more information, please contact: Kate Moore, UNICEF Australia 0407 150 771 kmoore@unicef.org.au

Bohdana Szydlik, UNICEF Australia 0413 908 929 bszydlik@unicef.org.au

 


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