I think most people will agree that child marriage, whether culturally traditional or not, is a human rights violation. It's estimated that nearly five million girls under the age of 15 are married every year. These marriages are linked to multi-generational poverty and poor health. Child marriage also ends education, and leads to increases in violence, instability, and a general disregard for the law. All of this affects not just girls, but entire communities and economies. This, in turn, affects the foreign policy interests of the United States, interests such as economic development and prosperity, as well as domestic stability and respect and adherence to the law.
It may be arrogant to consider the economic and political benefits over the moral ones, but more often than not, it is the clear and tangible benefits that move governments. With this approach, Rachel B. Vogelstein, the Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy for Council on Foreign Relations wrote the report Ending Child Marriage: How Elevating the Status of Girls Advances U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives.
You can watch Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and member of The Elders, and Geeta Rao Gupta, the Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF, discuss this report below, or you can check it out over at Girls Not Brides.
Girl Museum Inc.