U.S. House of Reps Just Can't Say No to Child Brides

Moral highroad stops before it reaches D.C. beltway.
An 8-year-old Indian bride heads off to honeymoon with her 14-year-old groom. (Photo: Raj Patidor/Reuters)
Dec 21, 2010
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Emphasizing the lame in “lame duck session,” the United States House of Representatives voted Thursday to deny a bill that would work toward stopping child marriages in developing countries.

Democrats accused GOP representatives of attempting to deny a victory to the Obama administration by blocking passage of the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. The bill had cleared the Senate unanimously earlier in December.

Opponents battled the law by claiming it was too expenisve and would fund abortions around the world.

The law’s sponsors assert there is no mention of abortion in the legislation, and that no new funds were required. The thrust of the Preventing Child Marriage Act was to urge the president to focus on reducing child marriages. According to Talking Points Memo:

The text of the bill does not mention abortion, contraception or family planning. Instead, it directs the president to make preventing child marriage a priority, especially in countries where more than 40 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married. The ways to do that, according to the bill: support educating communities on the dangers and health effects of child marriage, keep young girls in school, support female mentoring programs and make sure girls have access to health care services.

While some of the richest and most influential legislators in the world’s richest and most influential nation squabble, 8-year-old girls are being married off to men all across the globe.

Researchers warn that girls who get married when they are still children have more risky pregnancies and higher incidence of unwanted sterilization, rarely are able to take advantage of educational opportunities, and perpetuate a cycle of poverty, malnutrition and disease.

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