U.S. Senate Reintroduces Child Marriage Prevention Bill

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin Spearheads Renewed Effort
Thu, 02/24/2011

United States senators this month reintroduced legislation aimed at curbing child marriage worldwide, a move that comes two months after the same bill was blocked in the House of Representatives during the last Congressional session.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) once again is leading the effort to champion the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act.” The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The legislation contains the same provisions that unanimously passed the Senate in 2010. In part, it would require President Obama to create a strategy to reduce child marriage; authorize his administration to integrate child marriage prevention activities into existing development programs, and require the U.S. State Department to report on the issue in its annual report on human rights.

ICRW has advocated for the passage of the child marriage prevention bill since 2006.

“We’ll continue to work with members of Congress -- including those who led the effort to defeat last year’s bill -- to help them understand the importance of addressing child marriage in U.S. foreign assistance programs,” said Dan Martin, ICRW’s senior advocacy specialist.

In a tight budget environment, Martin stressed that addressing child marriage would improve outcomes for existing foreign assistance priorities. Child marriage contributes to higher rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, HIV infection and domestic violence as well as stymies efforts to educate girls, all of which undermine the intent of many development programs. 

“This bill will help our foreign aid dollars go farther," Martin said. "I have faith that we can find common ground – this issue is too important, and it is good policy."

Related News

Every day, tens of millions of girls around the world don’t have the opportunity to decide when, if, and whom to marry. They don’t have the chance to go to a good school, which can prepare them for jobs that will help lift their families out of poverty. And they lack access to safe, affordable sexual and reproductive health care that will let them control their own future.

More »

As the 69th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) convenes this month, the year-long intergovernmental process to negotiate the world’s development framework for the next 15 years formally begins. The culmination of this process will be the “post-2015 development agenda,” a set of internationally agreed development objectives that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire next year.

More »
In light of this week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, ICRW's Senior Policy Manager Lyric Thompson describes how the White House needs to do all it can to encourage leaders to address human rights...
More »

In case you missed it, Monday was the second-annual “Malala Day,” a celebration designated by the UN to honor Malala Yousafzai, the brave Pakistani teenager targeted by the Taliban for her activism for girls’ education. After surviving being shot on her school bus, Malala has gone on to be an even louder advocate for girls’ education and rights. She has written a book, participated in countless interviews around the world and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. What were you doing at 17?

More »