Child marriage, also known as ‘forced marriage’ or ‘early marriage’, is a harmful traditional practice that deprives girls of their dignity and human rights. . .
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 60,000,000 girls in developing countries now ages 20 through 24 were married under the age of 18, and if present trends continue more than 100,000,000 more girls in developing countries will be married as children over the next decade, according to the Population Council. . .
Child marriage has negative effects on the health of girls, including significantly increased risk of maternal death and morbidity, infant mortality and morbidity, obstetric fistula, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. . .
It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) child marriage is a violation of human rights, and the prevention and elimination of child marriage should be a foreign policy goal of the United States;
(2) the practice of child marriage undermines United States investments in foreign assistance to promote education and skills building for girls, reduce maternal and child mortality, reduce maternal illness, halt the transmission of HIV/AIDS, prevent gender-based violence, and reduce poverty; and
(3) expanding educational opportunities for girls, economic opportunities for women, and reducing maternal and child mortality are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the global health and development objectives of the United States, including efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS.These passages were taken from Bill S. 987 titled "International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010." Before you start feeling all warm and fuzzy at the realization that the current Congress is doing at least something right, I need to tell you that this bill failed to pass in Congress:
Despite unanimously passing the Senate, it only garnered a 241-166 majority in the House. Since House rules were in suspension, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, had a blunt response in a late-night press release: "The action on the House floor stopping the Child Marriage bill tonight will endanger the lives of millions of women and girls around the world. These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth. Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill." His frustration makes sense: the corresponding House Bill had 112 co-sponsors!What kind of an animal can possibly support child marriage, you might ask? Have the Republicans lost their last shreds of humanity? How does a politician justify sitting back and applauding this atrocity that destroys the lives of so many children? The frist two of these questions are, of course, rhetorical. We all know the answers to them. The last question, however, has an answer:
In the hours before the vote, Republicans circulated a memo to pro-life members of Congress alleging that the bill could fund abortions and use child marriage "to overturn pro-life laws." It also reiterated concerns over the bill's cost. When it came time for a vote, a number of the bill's pro-life supporters in both parties abandoned ship.S. 987 is not a long bill at all. I read it in its entirety and then conducted a specific search for the words "abortion", "family planning" and "contraception." These words are not mentioned in the bill. Not even once. Analyzing texts is what I do for a living, but for the life of me, I didn't find any textual evidence that even remotely links Bill S. 987 with abortion funding.
So the question remains: why are the Republicans so eager to defend child marriage? Are these the "family values" that they've been screeching about with the abandon of crazed parrots?
And I also have a small question for those who voted Republican in the last elections. Is this what you voted for? A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice. Something tells me, though, that no direct and honest answer is forthcoming.