"Too many girls in the world are being robbed of their childhood. Childhood marriage is not only a violation of children's rights but also constitutes violence against women. The time has come to act. We call on Member States to ratify the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women that recognises child marriages as a criminal offence", Anna Maria Corazza Bildt MEP will say during a European Parliament (EP) debate, initiated by the EPP Group, on ending forced marriages.

Today, more than 700 million women were married as children according to UNICEF, 1 out of 3 before the age of 15. “The consequences are devastating for girls who have health problems, endure sexual abuse, domestic violence and honour killings. Girls forced to marry are also forced out of school which condemns them to poverty and discrimination", Corazza Bildt, EPP Group Spokeswoman in the EP’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, will say.

The EPP Group supports that the European External Action Service and the Member States have placed child marriage as a priority in the EU Action Plan of Human Rights and Democracy and in the Gender Action Plan, but it calls on the High Representative and on the Member States to implement this commitment in dialogue and programmes with third countries.

"We call on the upcoming conference on international development in Addis Ababa to include the eradication of child marriage as a priority in the post-2015 development agenda. The EPP Group will continue to be committed to keeping a zero tolerance policy against child marriages at the top of the EU’s agenda."

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 218 Members from 27 Member States

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