Child marriage is an act of sexual violence against young girls, says Australian National Committee for UN Women.
The Australian National Committee for UN Women is concerned by the death of a 5 year old Saudi Girl, “Lama”, sexually abused and beaten to death by her father because he questioned his daughter’s virginity. Fayan alGhamdi has avoided a significant jail term by paying $50 000 in blood money to Lama’s mother.
Such horrific acts of violence and a lack of justice for Lama’s death is deeply concerning to the National Committee, which is dedicated to ending human rights abuses against women and achieving gender equality. The National Committee is seeking to raise $20, 000 by October 11, International Day of the Girl Child, to help girls escape violence and poverty, and access education and a brighter future. Millions of girls around the world need this assistance, says Julie McKay, Executive Director of the National Committee.
“The past year has really shed light on the shocking scale of violence against girls worldwide. The terrible fate of Lama is just the tip of the iceberg. On year ago to the week Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out about girls’ education. Thankfully Malala has fully recovered and is now an inspirational advocate for girls worldwide. But we know that other girls have not been so lucky. Girls live with violence every day, girls have their rights restricted every day.”
The Australian National Committee is focusing on ending violence against girls, in particular ending the practice of child marriage. Over 60 million girls worldwide are forced into marriage every year. In September, it was reported that an 8 year old Yemeni girl died on her wedding night after being forced into marriage with a man more than five times her age.
“Girls as young as 7 and 8 are being forced into marriage, forced into actions that their bodies are not yet ready for,” says Ms McKay. “Child marriage is physically and emotionally scarring for these girls. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for 15-19 year old girls worldwide. Girls under 20 are 50 per cent more likely to experience miscarriages or stillbirths than women over 20. Girls worldwide are suffering every day. We need to stand up as a community and take action. This is not a standard we accept for our daughters, and we must not accept it for girls worldwide.”
“UN Women provides shelter, medical and psychological care for victims of violence and provides girls with education and training which enables them to plan for their future. UN Women also works with governments around the world to change laws and ensure that perpetrators of violence like Lama’s father are brought to justice.”
“By providing girls with a chance to grow without violence, to escape poverty and to get an education we are investing in the future of our world. We are ensuring that these young girls can live free from violence and free to shape their own future.”
Donations to help girls can be made at http://www.mycause.com.au/events/dayofgirlchild or by contacting the National Committee on (02) 6173 3222.
Where will your money go?
$1040 can support girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking, giving them shelter, counselling, education and hope for the future.
$520 can fund a community-wide education program to end the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting.
$125 can support school teachers to educate students about forced marriage and early pregnancies.
$99 can provide a pregnant girl with medical care to ensure that she and her child are healthy and safe.
60 million girls worldwide are forced into marriage before age 18 every year
Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19
Girls under age 20 are 50 per cent more likely to experience miscarriages and stillbirths
1.2 million children being are trafficked each year – many of these children are girls forced into sex trafficking