Petition Closed
23,781
Supporters

Throughout the world, marriage is celebrated as a happy event of adult life. But for children—mostly girls who have a husband imposed upon them—the event marks a premature end to their childhood.

Child marriage is a harmful traditional practice and a violation of human rights. And it is a fact of life for many children around the world. In several countries of sub-Saharan Africa and in Bangladesh, more than 60 percent of women were married before the age of 18. Child marriage often leads to separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education and economic participation.

Because early marriage is usually tied to early pregnancy, girls married at a young age also face serious health risks—a girl under age 16 is five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman between the ages of 20 to 24. In addition, childhood pregnancy may lead to stunting for both mother and baby.

Though the United States supports many programs that assist children and mothers, there is no specific U.S. Government strategy or funding to focus on the problem of child marriage, or helping girls already married. The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act would strengthen and make more effective U.S. efforts to prevent child marriage. Although the Senate already passed this legislation with bipartisan support (with your voices of support!), the House still needs to act on the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2012.

Tell your Member of Congress that you care about preventing child marriage.

Letter to
U.S. House of Representatives
I am writing to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 6087, the bipartisan International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2012.

Child marriage is a harmful traditional practice and a violation of human rights. And it is a fact of life for too many children around the world. In some areas of the world, marriage at age 10—or even younger—is not uncommon. Child marriage often leads to separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education and economic participation.

Girls married at a young age face serious health risks from pregnancy and childbirth. Girls under age 16 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women ages 20 to 24; girls ages 16 to 19 are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their twenties. In addition, childhood pregnancy may lead to stunting for both mother and baby.

There are proven approaches that help communities around the world abandon the practice of child marriage. This legislation would require the U.S. Government to incorporate strategies to fight child marriage into existing development, health, and education programs. It also authorizes funding for programs to prevent child marriage and to help children already married, and requires the State Department to include research on child marriage in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Please cosponsor H.R. 6087, and help ensure that our government is a leader in addressing child marriage. I look forward to your response.