Every two seconds, a girl under the age of 18 is married somewhere in the world to a man she has never met. In many cases, she is traded off as a commodity to pay off debts, settle disputes or cement strategic alliances between families.
Child marriage is one of the biggest obstacles to development. Every year, it steals the innocence of 15 million girls worldwide, condemning them to a life of poverty, ignorance, and poor health.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child considers marriage before the age of 18 a human rights violation yet, in an evident clash between tradition and the rule of law, in countries like Niger, Chad and Mali, more than 70% of girls are married before the age of 18 (ICRW).
Trustlaw connected Equality Now with Latham & Watkins and a number of domestic firms to undertake a comparative analysis of the laws that govern child marriage in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Eritrea, Guatemala, India, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda and Yemen.
The picture presented by the legal research is not encouraging. It indicates that, once married, a girl is often trapped in a system where she is at risk of further violence and discrimination.
This report serves as a strategic tool to support advocates like Equality Now, legislators, policy makers and civil society in their fight to end the heinous practice of child marriage. In 2014, Equality Now has leveraged this legal research in its advocacy efforts towards legal reform.