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Girls deserve education, rights and their childhoods

"Girls across the globe deserve the opportunity to be children, to go to school, to finish their educations and decide for themselves if and when they will marry."Susanne von Bassewitz, Zonta International President

Dear friends, On 23 May, I met with members of the Zonta International UN Committee and a few very engaged Zontians in Vienna, Austria at the 28th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Our goal was to address child marriage: the violation of human rights that we put a special focus on in the year of Zonta's centennial anniversary.

During our side event, Child and Forced Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: An Increasing Trafficking Issue?, experts from diverse fields joined us to shed light on factors that work against the efforts to end this crime. The panel was an excellent example of how we collaborate with representatives of governments and organizations like the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Soroptimist International. Below are key points the panelists shared that illustrate not only the complexity of this practice, but why it must end. Our next newsletter will provide you with details from a seminar on ending child marriage that took place on the day after the side event. Together, we are making a difference for girls who are at risk of becoming victims of this crime. Cordially,

Dr. Susanne von Bassewitz, President

Child Marriage and Human Trafficking

Forced and early marriage means that at least one of the partners has not given consent or is too young to give consent. Any minor who has been persuaded to perform a commercial sexual act is a human trafficking victim, even if there has been no force, fraud, or coercion - because the minor is not old enough to provide knowing consent.

Dr. Philip Reichel, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Northern Colorado and member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. (Philip is happy to share his slides and notes. Please email for more information.)

Child Marriage, Cultural Norms and Education

In Afghanistan every third girl is still being married before the age of 18. Child marriages are sometimes used to strengthen ties between rival families, to settle dispute or reduce the amount of debt. Setting the age of marriage to 18 intends to enable girls to continue their education. Her Excellency Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Austria

Child Marriage and Humanitarian Crisis Settings

It is well documented that displacement leads to a considerable increase in human trafficking. The UN Environmental Programme has indicated that trafficking may increase 20-30% during disasters. Interpol has warned that disasters or conflict increase the exposure of women to trafficking as families are disrupted and livelihoods are lost. Dr. Linda Witong, Soroptimist International, Advocacy and Research Consultant.

Special thanks to Ingeborg Geyer and the Zonta International UN Committee.f you would like to support Zonta-sponsored initiatives like theGlobal Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage,please click the button below to donate.

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