Thank you to all of our donors for your continuous support of the AGLDF. In this report, we are updating you on two of our advocacy campaigns aimed at breaking down the practice of early marriage. Early marriage, that is marriage before age 18, violates the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage, choice of spouse and participation in sexual relations. When a girl gets married off as a child, her life becomes one of constant violence and discrimination. Often living with a man much older than herself, she is abruptly and violently initiated into sexual relations – suffering regular rapes by her husband and, unable to pursue an education, is less equipped to negotiate a secure and healthy life for herself. Worldwide there are 51 million girls between the ages of 15-19 that are currently married and, if nothing is done to address the issue, 100 million girls will be married before eighteen within the next decade.
We bring you good news on two issues we’ve campaigned on in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia - Equality Now followed the case of Fatima, a 12-year-old girl whose father sold her in marriage to a 50-year-old man for $10,665. We intervened to support Fatima’s paternal uncle who wanted to help his niece. In November 2012, the court granted Fatima a divorce, final three months later. Unusually, Fatima was not required to pay back the money given to her father by her husband for Fatima, which is a good precedent we would like to build on. We continue to work with Saudi activists to get a ban on all early marriage in Saudi Arabia.
Watch this VIDEO of a play written by Joss Whedon that illustrates some of our AGLDF cases, including the Yemen case which we reported to you previously. We helped to secure a divorce for 11-year-old Wafa, married off by her father to a 40-year-old farmer who subjected her to a year of sexual and physical abuse before she managed to run away.
Morocco - Equality Now also advocates to change early marriage laws worldwide. In Morocco the Ministry of Justice recently approved changes to the family code that would remove a provision that allows judges to permit marriages under the legal age. We are now waiting for the Moroccan Parliament to endorse these changes.
We hope you will continue to help us and to take part in our advocacy campaigns. Thank you again for your support.