This bill — the Preventing Child Marriage Act — would seek to prevent child marriage in United Nations-administered refugee settlements. To achieve this aim, the president would be required to direct the U.S. Permanent Representative (USPR) to the UN to use America’s voice, vote and influence at the UN to call for the adoption of a definition of “child marriage” and the development of a comprehensive strategy to address child marriage in refugee settlements administered by the UN.
The UN’s strategy would include the following:
- A mandate to regularly collect and report data on the number of known or suspected child marriages taking place inside each UN settlement;
- Protocols for UN personnel regarding the prevention and monitoring of child marriages inside each settlement;
- A description of programs at each settlement that provide: 1) physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation and support to children who have extricated themselves from child marriage and 2) alternatives to child marriage, such as education initiatives; and
- Protocols regarding how UN personnel should 1) report adults participating in illegal child marriages in each UN settlement and 2) monitor such adults’ prosecution by local authorities.
Additionally, the president would direct the USPR to use the United States’ voice, vote and influence to advocate that the UN and its appropriate agencies include in all of their research into child marriage the relationship between child marriage and violence against girls, including young children and infants.
For the purposes of this bill, “child marriage” means a formal marriage or informal union involving at least one person younger than age 18. The term “illegal child marriage” means a formal marriage or informal union involving at least one person under age 18 that’s illegal under the laws of the country the child marriage occurs in.