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INTERNATIONAL PROTECTING GIRLS BY PREVENTING CHILD MARRIAGE ACT OF 2011
(Senate - May 24, 2012)

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[Pages S3655-S3657]
INTERNATIONAL PROTECTING GIRLS BY PREVENTING CHILD MARRIAGE ACT OF 2011

  Mr. REID. I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to consideration 
of Calendar No. 412, S. 414.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
  A bill (S. 414) to protect girls in developing countries through the 
prevention of child marriage, and for other purposes.
  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise today to urge that the Senate pass 
S. 414, the ``Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act.'' As 
the Senate prepares to approve this bipartisan measure, we should take 
a moment to acknowledge and reflect upon the critical impact this 
legislation will have on the estimated 100 million girls in developing 
countries who are at risk of being married as children over the next 
decade.
  The harmful practice of forced child marriage often exacerbates 
social, economic, and political instability in the developing world, 
and can prohibit smooth economic and political transition.
  For example, Afghanistan's high female illiteracy rates and maternal 
mortality rates are among the most significant obstacles standing in 
the way of long-term progress and stability. Without ending child 
marriage, which remains one of the many underlying catalysts of these 
poor outcomes, the road ahead for women in Afghanistan will be all the 
more grueling. And women in Afghanistan are by no means alone in the 
struggle the discriminatory norms that perpetuate child marriage also 
prohibit full participation of women in the economic and political life 
in many other regions of the world.
  According to the United Nations Children's Fund--UNICEF--an estimated 
60,000,000 girls between the ages of 20 through 24 were married before 
they turned 18. The Population Council estimates that the number will 
increase by 100 million over the next decade if current trends 
continue. In addition to denying these tens of millions of women and 
girls their dignity, child marriage continues to endanger their health. 
Marriage at an early age puts girls at greater risk of dying as a 
result of childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the 
leading cause of death for women 15 to 19 years old in most Third World 
countries.
  Furthermore, women and girls are the world's greatest untapped 
resources. Studies conducted by the Food and Agricultural 
Organization--FAO--have confirmed that women are the main-stay of small 
scale agriculture, farm labor, and day-to-day family subsistence 
accounting for half of the world's food production.
  However, child marriage continues to be a barrier to the improvement 
of society and the development of these young women. And, 
unfortunately, early marriages continue to pull girls out of school and 
prohibit them from gaining vital skills to engage in income generating 
activities, actively participate in efforts to shape their communities, 
and often block their ability to achieve food security.
  I am heartened to see the United States Senate affirm the United 
States' commitment to promote the basic human rights of all individuals 
and through this small step improve the lives of millions of girls by 
passing this bill today.
  Before closing, let me briefly commend my friend and colleague, 
Senator Durbin of Illinois. He has been a leader on this topic for a 
number of years and

[[Page S3656]]

I have been privileged to work with him on this bill. Once the Senate 
completes action on this bill, I hope that the U.S. House will able to 
quickly approve it and send it to the White House for signature by 
President Obama.
  Mr. REID. I ask the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed 
to a voice vote on passage of the bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the engrossment and third 
reading of the bill.
  The bill (S. 414) was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading and 
was read the third time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The bill having been read the third time, the 
question is, Shall the bill pass?
  The bill (S. 414) was passed, as follows:

                                 S. 414

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``International Protecting 
     Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2011''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress makes the following findings:
       (1) Child marriage, also known as ``forced marriage'' or 
     ``early marriage'', is a harmful traditional practice that 
     deprives girls of their dignity and human rights.
       (2) Child marriage as a traditional practice, as well as 
     through coercion or force, is a violation of article 16 of 
     the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, 
     ``Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full 
     consent of intending spouses''.
       (3) 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.
       (4) Between \1/2\ and \3/4\ of all girls are married before 
     the age of 18 in Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, the 
     Central African Republic, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and 
     Nepal, according to Demographic Health Survey data.
       (5) Factors perpetuating child marriage include poverty, a 
     lack of educational or employment opportunities for girls, 
     parental concerns to ensure sexual relations within marriage, 
     the dowry system, and the perceived lack of value of girls.
       (6) 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.
       (7) According to the United States Agency for International 
     Development (USAID), increasing the age at first birth for a 
     woman will increase her chances of survival. Currently, 
     pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause 
     of death for women 15 to 19 years old in developing 
     countries.
       (8) Most countries with high rates of child marriage have a 
     legally established minimum age of marriage, yet child 
     marriage persists due to strong traditional norms and the 
     failure to enforce existing laws.
       (9) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that 
     child marriage is ``a clear and unacceptable violation of 
     human rights'', and that ``the Department of State 
     categorically denounces all cases of child marriage as child 
     abuse''.
       (10) According to an International Center for Research on 
     Women analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data, areas 
     or regions in developing countries in which 40 percent or 
     more of girls under the age of 18 are married are considered 
     high-prevalence areas for child marriage.
       (11) Investments in girls' schooling, creating safe 
     community spaces for girls, and programs for skills building 
     for out-of-school girls are all effective and demonstrated 
     strategies for preventing child marriage and creating a 
     pathway to empower girls by addressing conditions of poverty, 
     low status, and norms that contribute to child marriage.

     SEC. 3. CHILD MARRIAGE DEFINED.

       In this Act, the term ``child marriage'' means the marriage 
     of a girl or boy, not yet the minimum age for marriage 
     stipulated in law in the country in which the girl or boy is 
     a resident or, where there is no such law, under the age of 
     18.

     SEC. 4. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

       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.

     SEC. 5. STRATEGY TO PREVENT CHILD MARRIAGE IN DEVELOPING 
                   COUNTRIES.

       (a) Assistance Authorized.--
       (1) In general.--The President is authorized to provide 
     assistance, including through multilateral, nongovernmental, 
     and faith-based organizations, to prevent the incidence of 
     child marriage in developing countries through the promotion 
     of educational, health, economic, social, and legal 
     empowerment of girls and women.
       (2) Priority.--In providing assistance authorized under 
     paragraph (1), the President shall give priority to--
       (A) areas or regions in developing countries in which 40 
     percent or more of girls under the age of 18 are married; and
       (B) activities to--
       (i) expand and replicate existing community-based programs 
     that are successful in preventing the incidence of child 
     marriage;
       (ii) establish pilot projects to prevent child marriage; 
     and
       (iii) share evaluations of successful programs, program 
     designs, experiences, and lessons.
       (b) Strategy Required.--
       (1) In general.--The President shall establish a multi-year 
     strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the 
     empowerment of girls at risk of child marriage in developing 
     countries, which should address the unique needs, 
     vulnerabilities, and potential of girls under age 18 in 
     developing countries.
       (2) Consultation.--In establishing the strategy required by 
     paragraph (1), the President shall consult with Congress, 
     relevant Federal departments and agencies, multilateral 
     organizations, and representatives of civil society.
       (3) Elements.--The strategy required by paragraph (1) 
     shall--
       (A) focus on areas in developing countries with high 
     prevalence of child marriage;
       (B) encompass diplomatic initiatives between the United 
     States and governments of developing countries, with 
     attention to human rights, legal reforms, and the rule of 
     law;
       (C) encompass programmatic initiatives in the areas of 
     education, health, income generation, changing social norms, 
     human rights, and democracy building; and
       (D) be submitted to Congress not later than one year after 
     the date of the enactment of this Act.
       (c) Report.--Not later than three years after the date of 
     the enactment of this Act, the President should submit to 
     Congress a report that includes--
       (1) a description of the implementation of the strategy 
     required by subsection (b);
       (2) examples of best practices or programs to prevent child 
     marriage in developing countries that could be replicated; 
     and
       (3) an assessment, including data disaggregated by age and 
     sex to the extent possible, of current United States funded 
     efforts to specifically prevent child marriage in developing 
     countries.
       (d) Coordination.--Assistance authorized under subsection 
     (a) shall be integrated with existing United States 
     development programs.
       (e) Activities Supported.--Assistance authorized under 
     subsection (a) may be made available for activities in the 
     areas of education, health, income generation, agriculture 
     development, legal rights, democracy building, and human 
     rights, including--
       (1) support for community-based activities that encourage 
     community members to address beliefs or practices that 
     promote child marriage and to educate parents, community 
     leaders, religious leaders, and adolescents of the health 
     risks associated with child marriage and the benefits for 
     adolescents, especially girls, of access to education, health 
     care, livelihood skills, microfinance, and savings programs;
       (2) support for activities to educate girls in primary and 
     secondary school at the appropriate age and keeping them in 
     age-appropriate grade levels through adolescence;
       (3) support for activities to reduce education fees and 
     enhance safe and supportive conditions in primary and 
     secondary schools to meet the needs of girls, including--
       (A) access to water and suitable hygiene facilities, 
     including separate lavatories and latrines for girls;
       (B) assignment of female teachers;
       (C) safe routes to and from school; and
       (D) eliminating sexual harassment and other forms of 
     violence and coercion;
       (4) support for activities that allow adolescent girls to 
     access health care services and proper nutrition, which is 
     essential to both their school performance and their economic 
     productivity;
       (5) assistance to train adolescent girls and their parents 
     in financial literacy and access economic opportunities, 
     including livelihood skills, savings, microfinance, and 
     small-enterprise development;
       (6) support for education, including through community and 
     faith-based organizations and youth programs, that helps 
     remove gender stereotypes and the bias against girls used to 
     justify child marriage, especially efforts targeted at men 
     and boys, promotes zero tolerance for violence, and promotes 
     gender equality, which in turn help to increase the perceived 
     value of girls;
       (7) assistance to create peer support and female mentoring 
     networks and safe social spaces specifically for girls; and
       (8) support for local advocacy work to provide legal 
     literacy programs at the community level to ensure that 
     governments and

[[Page S3657]]

     law enforcement officials are meeting their obligations to 
     prevent child and forced marriage.

     SEC. 6. RESEARCH AND DATA.

       It is the sense of Congress that the President and all 
     relevant agencies should, as part of their ongoing research 
     and data collection activities--
       (1) collect and make available data on the incidence of 
     child marriage in countries that receive foreign or 
     development assistance from the United States where the 
     practice of child marriage is prevalent; and
       (2) collect and make available data on the impact of the 
     incidence of child marriage and the age at marriage on 
     progress in meeting key development goals.

     SEC. 7. DEPARTMENT OF STATE'S COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS 
                   PRACTICES.

       The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is amended--
       (1) in section 116 (22 U.S.C. 2151n), by adding at the end 
     the following new subsection:
       ``(g) The report required by subsection (d) shall include, 
     for each country in which child marriage is prevalent, a 
     description of the status of the practice of child marriage 
     in such country. In this subsection, the term `child 
     marriage' means the marriage of a girl or boy, not yet the 
     minimum age for marriage stipulated in law or under the age 
     of 18 if no such law exists, in the country in which such 
     girl or boy is a resident.''; and
       (2) in section 502B (22 U.S.C. 2304), by adding at the end 
     the following new subsection:
       ``(j) The report required by subsection (b) shall include, 
     for each country in which child marriage is prevalent, a 
     description of the status of the practice of child marriage 
     in such country. In this subsection, the term `child 
     marriage' means the marriage of a girl or boy, not yet the 
     minimum age for marriage stipulated in law or under the age 
     of 18 if no such law exists, in the country in which such 
     girl or boy is a resident.''.

  Mr. REID. I now ask the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, 
there be no intervening action or debate, and any statements related to 
this measure be printed in the Record as if read.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________




    

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