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Forced Child Marriage and Child Labor Coalition

Forced Child Marriage

Everyday almost 39,000 girls are forced to marry much older men. In fact, today there are 64 million girls around the world who have been forced into marriage before their 18 birthday. Child marriage is not only a gross human rights violation, but it puts young girls at risk and subjects them to a life of poverty, abuse and possibly death. Florence Mwase was just 13 when her aunt arranged her marriage to a 27 year old. For two years she endured physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband until she was able to escape. Unfortunately, many young girls are forced into abusive marriages but unlike Florence they cannot escape and suffer irreparable damages. Underage girls who are forced to perform sexual actions and endure child birth are more likely to suffer complications which can lead to serious trauma and death.

It may seem that child marriage is an issue solely seen in developing nations however; child marriage is a global concern and happens in all corners of the earth. Many states in the U.S. allow children as young as 12 to marry with parental consent and several states allow underage teens to get married without parental consent. Another common misconception among child marriage is that only girls are being exploited and forced to marry at a young age. Boys who are forced into marriage at an early age must drop out of school in order to provide for their family.

Education and child marriage go hand in glove. Increasing a child's ability to receive an eduaction can decrease her (or his) chance of forced marriage. Furthermore, preventing a child from marrying allows greater access to education, which has implications for well-being in factors such as health and economic development. Completing primary education can decrease a girl's liklihood of being forced into an underage marriage.  According to the International Center for Research on Women, "Girls with only primary education are twice as likely to be married before they turn 18 and girls with no education are three times as likely."

Education is a key factor in curbing forced child marriage, a practice which cuts a young girl's life short, ends her education, and commits her to a life of poverty and abuse. Ultimately, the world has turned its back on over 700 million girls who are forced into marriage before their 18 birthday. As the international community works to elevate the status of women it is important that child marriage be treated as a crucial roadblock towards reaching gender equality. Education has the ability to empower young girls and ensure that she is the keeper of her life.

Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) works to end child labor exploitation and promote health, safety and education for working minors. The CLC was established when groups mobilized, following the Capital Hill Forum “Exploitation of Children in the Workplace” in 1989. Today the collation is comprised of nearly 30 groups with several labor unions, including the National Education Association (NEA), human rights groups and advocacy organizations coming together to fight child labor. The CLC works to end child labor through public advocacy, testifying at the state and federal level, conducting congressional briefings, and engaging in research. The CLC is unique in the fight to end child labor because the coalition tackles a broad range of child labor issues and focuses on both domestic and international child labor. The National Consumers League (NCL) is the coordinating organization for the coalition. To stay up to date visit the Child Labor Coalition website and follow the coalition on twitter @ChildLaborCLC.

Education International