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Call for ending child, forced marriages

LAHORE: Plan International, a child’s rights organisation, on Saturday welcomed the United Nations’ resolution for ending child marriages.

According to a press release, the organisation termed the resolution “a historic step” to protect the basic rights of millions of girls.

The resolution was adopted in the 69th session of the General Assembly on November 22. It was led by Canada and Zambia and co-sponsored by 118-member states. The latest resolution is the most substantive to date and urges all states to enact, enforce and uphold laws and policies aimed at preventing and ending child, early and forced marriage and protecting those at risk.

It also calls on states to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free and full consent of the intending spouses. The resolution puts child marriage and girls’ human rights at the heart of development stressing that child early and forced marriage (CEFM) hindered achievement of six of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Plan International Pakistan Country Director Rashid Javed said that the resolution would boost Alliance Against Child Marriages (AACM) endeavors to end child marriages in Pakistan.

“I appreciate the approval of Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 and call upon the federal and provincial governments for the promulgation of such legislations,” he added.

Rashid Javed appealed the parents to allow children the time and opportunity to receive an education. “We want children in schools instead,” he asserted.

He said that in Pakistan and elsewhere Plan International has been running a girls’ rights campaign titled “Because I am a girl”, adding that according to the latest statistics nearly 41,000 girls aged under 18 are married worldwide every day

“One in three girls in the developing world will be married by her 18th birthday. If the current trend continues, more than 140 million girls will be married by 2020,” the Plan International country director said.

“Child marriage is a violation of children’s human rights. Despite being prohibited by international human rights law, child marriage continues to rob millions of girls around the world of their childhood. It forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or death.” Plan International Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nigel Chapman said.

“The UN resolution must not stay on paper and should serve as a force to galvanise nations to act and protect lives and futures of millions of girls. The resolution also recognises education as one of the most effective ways to prevent and end CEFM and calls upon all states to promote and protect women and girls’ right to education,” he added.

Daily Times