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New UN Report: Child, Early and Forced Marriage
To view the full report in English, French, or Arabic, please download the pdf.
The Human Rights Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to prepare a report, in consultation with States, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, with a particular focus on challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps.
The report which was published last month April 2014, documents key conclusions and recommendations including:
25. Comprehensive and coordinated approaches are needed in order to effectively address child, early and forced marriage. It is recommended that national policies and strategies be developed and implemented with the involvement of relevant government departments at the national and local levels, civil society organizations, including women’s groups, religious and community leaders, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders, including legislators and the judiciary.
26. Policy and protection measures, action and strategies should be guided by the best interests of the child, be context-appropriate and in accordance with international human rights standards. They should be part of broader efforts to promote equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls not only in access to education, but also, inter alia, in the areas of employment, political participation, health, access to inheritance, land and productive resources. Such policies and plans, as appropriate, should encompass the following broad areas of focus:
(a) Ensuring a national legal framework in line with international human rights standards, including with regard to the age of majority and the legal age for marriage for girls and boys, the prohibition of forced marriage and birth and marriage registration;
(b) Harmonizing national laws on marriage, including by amending existing laws to remove legal obstacles faced by girls who seek the enforcement of national laws on child marriage prevention or prohibition and legal remedies; removing unreasonable legal requirements for formally ending a child marriage; and providing access to remedies for those who leave a marriage;
(c) Promoting girls’ access to high-quality education, in accordance with relevant international standards, including tailored reintegration programmes for girls who are forced to drop out of school owing to marriage and/or childbirth; the provision of economic support and incentives to girls attending schools and to their families has proven to be effective in allowing girls to pursue higher education and delay marriage;
(d) Promoting women’s economic empowerment and access to productive resources, including by addressing discriminatory norms and practices in this regard.
(e) Addressing the widespread cultural and social acceptance of child, early and forced marriage, including by raising awareness of its harm to the victims and the cost to society at large and by providing platforms and opportunities for discussion within communities and families on the benefits of delaying marriage and ensuring that girls receive education. The involvement of older women and of religious and community leaders, and the engagement of men and boys as key participants in these efforts is essential;
(f) Providing age-appropriate, culturally relevant and empirically based comprehensive education on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and life-skills training for women and girls, and ensuring that women and girls are made aware of and have the capacity to claim and exercise their rights in relation to marriage;
(g) Supporting the establishment of networks to facilitate the exchange of information between girls and young women on child, early and forced marriage through the innovative use of technology;
(h) Implementing training programmes for government officials, the judiciary, lawenforcement and other State officials, teachers, health and other service workers, those working with immigrants and asylum seekers, and relevant professionals and sectors on how to identify girls at risk or actual victims and on applicable legislation and prevention and care measures;
(i)Providing adequate financial resources and support to comprehensive programmes to address child, early and forced marriage, including those aimed at married girls and those within indigenous and rural communities, in cooperation with United Nations agencies, regional organizations, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders;
(j) Improving data collection, research and dissemination of existing good practices and ensuring a clear analysis and assessment of the impact of existing policies and programmes as a means of strengthening them, ensuring their effectiveness and monitoring their implementation.