This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

How Can You Possibly Oppose a Bill That Aims to Prevent Child Marriage?

The US House of Representatives today voted down a bill (previously passed unanimously by the Senate!) that would require the US government to develop policies to prevent child marriage, with the goal of eliminating this practice anywhere in the world. The bill also seeks to promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of women and girls.
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 60 million girls in developing countries now ages 20 to 24 were married under the age of 18. The Population Council estimates that the number will increase by 100 million over the next decade if current trends continue.
Child marriage is often carried out through force or coercion. It deprives young girls – and sometimes boys - of their dignity and human rights. In some countries, it is not uncommon for girls as young as seven or eight years old to be married. 
It appears that the bill was torpedoed in the House by an email sent out to members saying that the legislation would be used to promote abortion in developing countries.
Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota said Friday that her bill aimed at preventing child marriage abroad fell victim to abortion politics in the U.S. House. McCollum’s International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act failed to win the two-thirds vote necessary Thursday night after Republican leaders sent out an e-mail alert to m ” embers saying that funding in the bill could be used by groups that promote abortion. The Minnesota Democrat called the claim “completely untrue.” “The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act failed last night not because of the issue, but because a handful of Republicans chose partisan politics over the basic human rights of young girls,” McCollum said. “I am truly disappointed in this result, but I’m not giving up on these children."

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