In a shameful political ploy at the expense of young girls, last night the House of Representatives voted against a bill that would help prevent child marriages worldwide. After unanimously clearing the U.S. Senate with 100% bipartisan support, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriages seemed on its way to be passed by the House and signed into law by the President. It will not become law this year.From Akimbo. What can one possibly say?
The objection, led by House Republicans leaders, appears to have had nothing to do with substance – the thousands of lives that could have been positively impacted by enactment of the legislation – but everything to do with politics. Key Republicans drummed up opposition to the bill by concocting arguments about the high costs of implementation. However, the bill was actually an effort to make existing U.S. foreign assistance expenditures more effective. The bill would have targeted existing resources toward community-based efforts, like those of our partner APAD in Cameroun, which supports survivors of early and forced marriage to become economically independent. Importantly, the legislation would bring hope and opportunity to millions of girls who now face a life of poverty, violence, ill health, and possibly death as a result of being forced into marriage at an early age (including some as young as eight years old). The opposing Representatives also made false accusations that the legislation was a backhanded way to support pro-choice non-governmental organizations.