Child marriage is one of the biggest human rights issues. Resolving it is vital for our modern society, due to its connection to many other problems. As the Human Rights Committee (HRC) Co-Chair, Isabella Winger, explains, “Child marriage is an issue that is more than just government policies. There are so many elements that play a role. It is extremely challenging to tackle and can only be combated in a global effort.” Religion and culture are two of the biggest factors in the prevalence of child marriage.
Religious groups’ beliefs and practices influence their opinions on marriage and pregnancy strongly. Therefore, child marriages among those with religious backgrounds often involve arranged, forced marriages and premarital pregnancy. Certain cultural values, lack of education, and poverty contribute to child marriage as well.
Child marriages also constitute child abuse. Child marriages often lead to early pregnancies, despite the womans’ bodies not being fully developed yet. They are accompanied by domestic violence and the child's loss of a promising future. As Alexandria Zaky, the delegate representing UN Women states, “When children are forced into child marriages they are statistically proven to live below the poverty line and have lower levels of education. Child marriage is cyclical, therefore it is a cycle that is extremely hard to break.” This problem is also deeply connected to child trafficking.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that child trafficking and child marriages directly violate basic human rights. The United Nations documents that support the ending of child marriage are the UDHR and the General Assembly’s Third Committee Resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage. Both child marriage and sex trafficking have life-altering outcomes because they often involve mental and physical abuse. Even though both topics are considered important and are prohibited by law, they still occur. According to the United Nations, the most common form of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation. One in four victims of modern slavery are children.
Today’s Human Rights Committee time consisted of ice-breakers, intense lobbying and an informative guest speaker, all of which will definitely provide for a heated debate during this year’s BERMUN 2019.