|UNFPA: Early marriages must stop|
Bishkek, 11 October 2012, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund called today for a national campaign to end the harmful traditional practice of early marriage in Kyrgyzstan.
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA stated: “Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects. A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage”.
The call made on the International Day of the Girl Child, is part of The Day’s observance and also includes the opening of “TOO YOUNG TO MARRY - The sold childhood”, an art exhibition hosted by UNFPA. Featuring photography and video, the multimedia show highlights the personal narratives of six Kyrgyz girls married against their will at early ages. The art exhibition aims to renew local attention to the critical issue and promote accountability from decision makers in Kyrgyzstan.
In Kyrgyzstan the practice of “early marriage” is an undeniable fact: 12.2 % of women in the country get married before they reach 18 years of age. In rural areas, 14.2% of women marry before they reach 18 years of age. In urban areas, this statistic stands at 9.7 %. To complicate the matter, early marriage, and violence against women within marriage, is commonly perceived as ‘natural’ in Kyrgyz society. Impoverished parents often believe that child marriage will protect their daughters. In fact, however, it results in lost development opportunities, limited life options and poor health.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Alexander Avanessov described the impact of early marriage as “a practice that would diminish girls’ chances of completing their education because new brides are usually forced to drop out of school to bear children and to provide household labour”.
What is UNFPA doing to address the problem of early marriage?
UNFPA is working with governments and partners at all levels of society to deliver comprehensive programmes addressing the needs of vulnerable and married girls, including access to livelihoods, social support and health programmes, including sexual and reproductive health.
“On behalf of girls in Kyrgyzstan, we ask for your full engagement in helping us to end early marriage” concluded his remarks Mr. Avanessov. “We all want the best for our children and your support is crucial. It is time for policy makers, parliamentarians, communities, families and young people to address this issue head on. It is time to break the silence. Together!”
For further information, please contact:
Nora Suyunalieva at [email protected]; 611202