Forced and early marriage – are we right to intervene?

Plan UK have recently launched their latest action as part of their ‘Because I am a girl’ campaign: a move to bring forced and early marriage on to the agenda of the UK government and governments around the world. 10 million girls a year are subjected to forced and early marriage, and although the countries with the highest rates of early marriage are in Africa and Southern Asia, even in the UK in 2010 the UK Government Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 1,735 cases.

Why should we concern ourselves? Firstly, forced marriage is wrong – it is nothing less than an abuse of girls’ human rights, and we simply must not ignore it. Secondly, early marriage leads to early motherhood – and girls who give birth in their teens are more likely to die in childbirth than women who give birth in their twenties. Moreover, early motherhood as often as not leads to a girl’s education stopping in its tracks, with all the consequences this brings: reinforcing cycles of poverty and injustice.

All too often we worry, in our ‘developed’ world, about interfering with cultural traditions and ways of life of others. We agonise over whether we have the right to impose our views on others; and all too often this fear of being seen as illiberal translates into inaction. This is wrong, however; we are all human beings and need to stand up and be counted far more frequently than we are at present. Forced and early marriage is wrong – we should say so.

You can read the full report on Forced and Early Marriage at http://www.plan-uk.org/resources/documents/Breaking-Vows-Early-and-Forced-Marriage-and-Girls-Education/.

And do ‘Take the Vow’ to make a difference to girls across the world.

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