Child marriage may seem like a thing of the past but in reality each year thousands of girls are forced into marriages too young to even realize what is happening to them. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.” However, in the overwhelming majority of the time the consent of the child is not given but rather it is the parents who approve the act. Child marriage is a major “violation of girls’ human rights to health, education, equality, and violence and exploitation.” Child marriage can sometimes be a form of slavery. The Anti-Slavery International states that it can be a form of slavery when a child is controlled through abuse and threats, a child is forced to marry without full or informed consent, and/or a child cannot realistically leave the marriage. It has been directly linked to exploitation and trafficking in many areas around the world. For example, in Ethiopia most victims of child prostitution were married before the age of 15. In the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua some families are arranging their young daughters’ marriages to older foreigners in exchange for money. But these are just some of the many places throughout the world where this horrible act is occurring and it needs to be stopped.
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Source: Girls Not Brides. “Human Rights and Justice.” Girls Not Brides, Idea Bureau, June 2013, www.girlsnotbrides.org/themes/human-rights-and-justice/