Every day, girls as young as eight or nine are forced to marry men who are often decades older. If we do nothing, an estimated 142 million girls will be married as children by the end of this decade. Child brides are more likely to experience violence, run a very high risk of complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and are often unable to continue their education—condemning many to a life sentence of poverty and pain.
The bipartisan International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (S. 987; H.R. 2103)—introduced by lead sponsors Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Maine—seeks to increase the effectiveness of current U.S. development investments by eliminating the harmful practice of child marriage. The United States invests more than $450 million each year in development programs that are consistently undermined by child marriage. Specifically, the bill would:
- Require the US Department of State to address the status of child marriage in countries with high prevalence rates in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
- Require the White House to create a multi-year strategic plan to combat child marriage.
- Integrate child marriage prevention into existing development programs through the US Agency for International Development, and promote community-based efforts to combat early marriage.
- This bill, which has unprecedented support in both the Senate (over 40 co-sponsors) and House (over 100 co-sponsors), is poised to make history as the first legislation Congress has ever passed on child marriage—and more importantly, it would make a critical, life-saving difference to millions of girls around the world.
If the bill does not pass the House soon, we risk losing vital strategic ground and having to start over in the next session of Congress. Your 2-minute call or quick email could make the critical difference!
Call Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find your Representative’s contact info at www.house.gov.
See our suggested script below.
Hello, my name is ____________ and I am a constituent. I am contacting your to express my strong support for the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (H.R. 2103), which unanimously passed the Senate on December 1st and is awaiting action in the House. I urge the Representative to support the passage of this vital legislation, which would support programs that help prevent child marriage in developing countries and promote the empowerment of girls at risk of child marriage. Thank you.
ACTION ALERT UPDATE: We are disappointed to report that the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (S. 987; H.R. 2103) was defeated in the House on Dec. 16, 2010 by a vote of 241—166. In partnership with other advocates, we will continue to try to make progress on this critical issue, and we will keep you updated. Thank you for your support and interest.