Child, Early & Forced Marriage (CEFM) is fundamental violation of human rights that impacts 8.8 millions girls living in Commonwealth countries each year. No society can afford the lost development opportunity, waste of talent or personal devastation that CEFM causes.

To coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women/Girls (25th November 2022), It’s a Penalty published a Policy Brief examining the prevention and elimination of CEFM in the Commonwealth, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

The Policy Brief, produced as part of the CommonProtect initiative, provides an overview of the issue of CEFM in the Commonwealth, a summary of the advocacy and political efforts undertaken to-date by Commonwealth actors to address CEFM, provides an overview of the legal context, and makes recommendations for action going forward.

The key recommendations include:

  • Taking a child protection, holistic and multi-disciplinary approach when addressing CEFM.
  • Establishing a strong and coherent legal framework that specifies the minimum age of marriage, regardless of gender, highlights the principle of free, full and informed consent to marriage, and prohibits all forms of violence that may occur in the context of CEFM.
  • Legal provisions related to CEFM must be accompanied by policies and procedures that address the root causes of CEFM, and protect and support survivors of CEFM.
  • Increased collaboration and partnership work should be taken forward by Commonwealth partners (inc. the CLA, It’s a Penalty/CommonProtect and the Human Rights Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat).