LONDON (TrustLaw) - Up to 10 million girls under the age of 18 are coaxed, coerced or forced into marriage each year, development charity Plan UK said on Monday.
Here's what it says about the definition of a child marriage in its report "Breaking Vows"
Defining early and forced marriage:
Marriage is a formalised, binding partnership between consenting adults. Child marriage, on the other hand, involves either one or both spouses being children and may take place under civil, religious or customary laws with or without formal registration. Children are people under the age of 18 years old.
Early because girls marry before the age of 18
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as ‘every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.’
Marriage before the age of 18 years old should not be permitted since children do not have the ‘full maturity and capacity to act,’ as recognised by the expert body that monitors the Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in its General Recommendation 21.
Forced because girls rarely give their free and full consent to marry
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that marriage should be ‘entered only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.’ In the majority of child marriages, however, there is often an element of coercion involved: parents, guardians or families put pressure on children or force them into marriage. Early marriage is accepted as the norm in many countries and girls may give their consent as a duty and sign of respect to their family and community. However, where one of the parties in a marriage is under the age of 18 years old, consent cannot always be assumed to be ‘free and full’ and is rarely in the best interest of the girl.
Early and forced marriage and boys
Plan says there is a need to also address its impact on boys and young men. While early and forced marriage directly impacts boys on a much smaller scale, for those that it does affect, it can have profound psychological consequences and is no less a violation of their rights.
Equally, boys have a powerful role to play in ending early and forced marriage, according to Plan.