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house Bill H.R. 2140

Should the U.S. Encourage the United Nations to Prevent Child Marriages in UN Refugee Camps?

Argument in favor

Child marriage in UN refugee camps is a growing problem that violates girls’ rights and freedoms. This problem needs to be addressed, and the U.S. should use its outsized role in the UN to help ensure the UN addresses it.

Linda's Opinion
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06/09/2019
Child marriages shackle young girls’ into life long Servitude. Her value is objectified. USA UN rep needs to speak out and influence with education to those countries with this practice.
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Mark's Opinion
···
06/10/2019
We should demand that child marriages be banned entirely in United Nations refugee camps, not simply “encourage” the UN to do more to prevent it. Sorry world, when you take our money you play by our rules. That’s called reality. Oh and to the liberal elitists commenting here on this blog, I find it disgusting that many of you would throw young women into lives of slavery and misery just because you hate President Trump and any initiative this administration undertakes. Dear God you people are sick.
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Hiro9's Opinion
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06/10/2019
Yes. And the US would have a lot more credibility in telling the UN to halt child marriages in refugee camps if it didn’t have 17 states with no minimum age to be married.
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Argument opposed

The UN already has existing programs to address the problem of child marriage. Thus, there’s no need for the U.S. to exert its influence over the organization to encourage it to address child marriage as a problem.

Kodiwodi's Opinion
···
06/09/2019
The US should stop child marriages in the US and express it’s support for remaining in the UN rather than continually saying do as I say not as I do.
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burrkitty's Opinion
···
06/10/2019
As if it doesn’t happen here? Almost a half million child brides a year, as young as 12 prove our own shameful behavior. Glass houses. We have no moral high ground. Let’s commit to getting rid of child marriages here in the USA. 18, no exceptions, no parent override. No child brides. Period.
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KansasTamale's Opinion
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06/10/2019
Trying to tell the world what to do about child marriages when there are states with child marriages is ridiculous. We need to clean up our own litter box before telling others what to do.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations
    IntroducedApril 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2140?

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.

Impact

United States Permanent Representative (USPR) to the United Nations; UN; UN refugee camps; child marriages in UN refugee camps; and UN research on child marriage.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2140

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced this bill to direct the U.S. to lead UN efforts to define, investigate and prevent child marriage. After this bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she said:

“I am pleased that my legislation, the Preventing Child Marriage in Displaced Populations Act, passed through committee and is one step closer to becoming law. Child marriage is a violation of human rights and a form of violence against women. This legislation would direct the United States to lead UN efforts to adopt a definition of ‘child marriage’ and craft a comprehensive strategy to address child marriages in UN-administered refugee settlements. Humanitarian crises put women and girls at a much higher risk of violence and exploitation, including child marriage. The United States must be a leader in this issue and fight for girls in unstable, violent situations, when they may not have the resources or ability to protect themselves.”

This bill unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of two bipartisan cosponsors, one from each party.


Of NoteGirls Not Brides, a global partnership of over 1,000 civil society organizations committed to ending child marriage, reports that “child marriage has been rising at an alarming rate in humanitarian settings.” According to Girls Not Brides, marrying daughters off often strikes poor families in crisis-stricken areas as a way to protect girls; and in other cases, child marriage can also happen against parents’ wishes in the midst of conflict.

Specific to refugee camps, Girls Not Brides reports that in northern Cameroon and Nigeria, families facing extreme poverty due to internal displacement and living in refugee camps “often marry off their girls because of a lack of other alternatives and the breakdown of social networks.” Additionally, in northern Cameroon, marriage is also used as a way to recover family debts. The organization also reports that child marriage is a growing problem for Syrian girls in refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey; for example, in Jordan, the percentage of registered marriages involving a girl under 18 has increased from 12% in 2011 to 18% in 2012, 25% in 2013 and 32% in early 2014. As of 2018, 41% of young displaced Syrian women in Lebanon were married before 18 (and, given that many of these marriages are unregistered, these figures may be higher).

Girls Not Brides reports that child marriage has a range of negative repercussions for girls, including: complications during pregnancy and childbirth, violence, limited education and economic opportunities and little freedom and opportunity to socialize with children their own age. Additionally, the short-term and extralegal nature of many of these marriages leave girls with little legal protection for themselves and their children. In refugee camps, divorced girls are stigmatized, with harmful effects on their mental health.

To combat child marriage, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) promoties policies, programs and legislation designed to end child marriage and supports evidence-based, girl-centered investments that empower girls with the information, skills and services they need to be healthy, educated and safe as they transition to adulthood. The organization also works to support married girls’ needs, particularly in the areas of family planning and maternal health.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / 3bugsmom)

AKA

To prevent child marriage in refugee settlements administered by the United Nations, and for other purposes

Official Title

To prevent child marriage in United Nations-administered refugee settlements, and for other purposes.

    Child marriages shackle young girls’ into life long Servitude. Her value is objectified. USA UN rep needs to speak out and influence with education to those countries with this practice.
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    The US should stop child marriages in the US and express it’s support for remaining in the UN rather than continually saying do as I say not as I do.
    Like (46)
    Follow
    Share
    As if it doesn’t happen here? Almost a half million child brides a year, as young as 12 prove our own shameful behavior. Glass houses. We have no moral high ground. Let’s commit to getting rid of child marriages here in the USA. 18, no exceptions, no parent override. No child brides. Period.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    We should demand that child marriages be banned entirely in United Nations refugee camps, not simply “encourage” the UN to do more to prevent it. Sorry world, when you take our money you play by our rules. That’s called reality. Oh and to the liberal elitists commenting here on this blog, I find it disgusting that many of you would throw young women into lives of slavery and misery just because you hate President Trump and any initiative this administration undertakes. Dear God you people are sick.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Trying to tell the world what to do about child marriages when there are states with child marriages is ridiculous. We need to clean up our own litter box before telling others what to do.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. And the US would have a lot more credibility in telling the UN to halt child marriages in refugee camps if it didn’t have 17 states with no minimum age to be married.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely this is nothing less than abuse of minors, specifically girls.
    Like (11)
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    After we do that how about protecting our own children!
    Like (11)
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    We can’t even control child marriage HERE! We need to stop meddling and fix our own messes before we “preach “ to others
    Like (10)
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    No child brides!
    Like (9)
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    This is not our business. We need to remove ourselves from the corrupt UN.
    Like (9)
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    We have enough issues within in our own country to be telling anyone how or what they should do. We have groups telling us no abortions, groups supporting segregation, groups supporting Popular Voting, Groups supporting expensive housing costs, companies closing factories and moving overseas, unequal pay for the same work. No with as many sins that our Congress is not supporting our own Constitution, where do they get the right to dictate or advise other countries on their issues.
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    Thank you Rep Ann Wagner (Republican, Mo). I support this bill. From International Women's Health Coalition-Consequences of Child Marriage: Child marriage effectively ends a girl’s childhood, curtails her education, minimizes her economic opportunities, increases her risk of domestic violence, and puts her at risk for early, frequent, and very high-risk pregnancies Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s and face higher risk of pregnancy-related injuries, such as obstetric fistula Child brides are often unable to negotiate safer sexual practices and are therefore at a higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections The negative consequences of child marriage reach beyond the girls themselves: children of child brides are 60 percent more likely to die in the first year of life than those born to mothers older than 19, and families of child brides are more likely to be poor and unhealthy. Besides all this: no one is disgusted that this is nothing more than legalized CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE? I'm appalled by some of the opinions. There are documented cases of child brides as young as 5. Shame on you.
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    This is a no brainer.
    Like (7)
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    Yes. I know this happens and is a practice in some cultures. Ultimately children should be older to marry as sexual relations with a child that has not yet reached their teen years could be physically harmed.
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    Child marriage world-wide does need to be addressed by the UN but not by a separate action by the United States. We need to work with and through the UN to support and strengthen the existing programs that are in place to address this issue.
    Like (6)
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    In refugees camps yes. However shouldn’t we push the UN to make all child marriages illegal. But that shit won’t fly in just about all countries. Only countries that respect women’s rights would go for this. So that kills the 🇺🇸 🇸🇦 🇨🇦 🇮🇷 🇮🇶 want me to keep going? Child marriage will be like sexual harassment your never going to be rid of it.
    Like (5)
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    Children should not be getting married! Why is this even thought as okay! It is 2019!! Let the kids be kids!
    Like (5)
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    Yes child marriage must be prevented. It's child abuse.
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    Child marriages are nothing but slavery by another name.
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