Ploumen calls for international action against child marriage

During the UN General Assembly, development minister Lilianne Ploumen announced international action against child marriage. With her Canadian and Ghanaian counterparts, Ms Ploumen has launched an initiative with this goal, which was greeted with enthusiasm at the UN summit.

‘Child marriage breaches fundamental human rights’, said Ms Ploumen. ‘An effective international approach will be needed to put a halt to it. Every year, at least 14 million child marriages take place, often with terrible consequences for the bride. It is almost impossible to imagine what those girls go through. From one day to the next, they may be terribly exploited, face daily domestic and sexual violence, be barred from attending school, and run the enormous risks of pregnancy at an early age.’

The Netherlands intends to intensify the fight against child marriage in developing countries using child helplines, public information campaigns, education, stronger legislation, and birth registration. Ms Ploumen realises that it will take a long time to ban the practice. ‘Child marriage is three times as common in poor families. From mother to daughter, it’s a vicious circle. All the more reason to take action.’

Last week, the Netherlands submitted a resolution to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling on it to devote attention to the fate of child brides. It also called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to carry out a study into best practices for effectively combating child marriage. This call has so far attracted support from some 50 countries, including Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Yemen.