Girls Not Brides
- By Richard Branson -
- Aug 07, 2012
“If adults know child marriage is wrong, why do they allow it to happen?”
Graça Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two members of The Elders, visited Bihar in northeast India recently to discover more about the huge problem of child marriage.
They found that 69% of girls in Bihar are married before age 18 - despite this being illegal by national law. Globally, 100 million girls will marry as children in the next decade. Child brides are vulnerable to domestic violence, poverty, a lack of education, ill health and abuse.
We need local, national and international action to reverse this shocking trend. There are movements of defiance in Senegal, Ethiopia, Malawi and India who are campaigning to stop child marriage and Graca and Arch are urging the Obama administration to make eliminating child marriage a foreign policy goal.
They said in the Washington Post: “As adults we have to ask ourselves: are we doing enough to fulfil our responsibility to these young people and respect their rights in law and in action? The answer, sadly, is no.
“Child marriage happens because adults believe they have the right to impose marriage upon a child. This denies children, particularly girls, their dignity and the opportunity to make choices that are central to their lives, such as when and whom to marry or when to have children. Choices define us and allow us to realize our potential. Child marriage robs girls of this chance.”
The Elders are doing all they can to tackle child marriage and we all need to raise awareness of this devastating problem to make sure that child brides become a thing of the past.
You can find out more at the Girls Not Brides website.
Image from Tom Pietrasik, The Elders
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group