A common pledge for necessary half of human; Commonwealth tackles forced marriage- an AFP report via humanrescueintermedia

Commonwealth tackles forced marriage

(AFP) 30.10.2011


PERTH, Australia — Commonwealth leaders Sunday placed renewed emphasis on tackling forced marriage as they wrapped up a three-day summit at which they committed to empowering girls and women.

In a communique pitched towards overhauling the 54-nation bloc to make it more relevant, the grouping said it would “promote the implementation of measures to tackle early and forced marriage”.

The group of mostly former British colonies also said it would move to implement international instruments and agreements on women’s rights.

Activists have said the forced marriage of young girls takes place on a “shocking scale” in Commonwealth countries, trapping children in a cycle of poverty, illiteracy and ill health and violating their basic human rights.

Plan International Australia, one of the world’s largest children’s development organisations, welcomed the Commonwealth’s decision, which it said would significantly boost efforts to protect millions of girls.

“The decision to focus on ending early and forced marriage sends a strong signal to government authorities and communities across the Commonwealth that the early marriage of girls — often against their will and best interests — is no longer a practice to be tolerated,” the group’s Ian Wishart said.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth on Friday, with the monarch calling on leaders to find ways to allow all girls and women to realise their potential.

Commonwealth nations account for 12 of the worst 20 global offenders on forced marriage with customary law in some Pacific countries, such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, allowing girls to be married at 12 or 13.

In Bangladesh 32 percent of women were married before they were 15, while Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Mozambique, Malawi and India also had high rates of early marriage, according to a Plan International report.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

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