Good Causes


Tue.28.Jun.2011 UTC

A COURAGEOUS activist is launching a new campaign to end the forced marriage of girls in the world’s poorest countries.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who faced death threats after setting up the first national helpline for UK victims, is now helping highlight the plight of the world’s poorest child brides.

The activist, whose tireless work led to the development of the UK’s Forced Marriage Act, is joining forces with the global children’s charity Plan UK.

The award-winning founder of Karma Nirvana is an ambassador of Because I am a Girl, the charity’s campaign, for the rights and education of girls in poorer parts of the world.

Ms Sanghera, who was disowned by her family at 16 for refusing to wed a man she had never met, is championing Take the Vow, Plan UK’s petition andcall for action to end child marriage.

The charity has identified forced, early marriage as one of the biggest barriers to education for girls in the poorest parts of the world.

Its Take the Vow petition, launched this week, is pressing for an end to the practice of underage girls being forced to marry in these regions.

Plan UK’s call for action comes as a new report reveals that one in seven under-15-year-old girls will become child brides in the world’s poorest countries.

The report, entitled ‘Breaking Vows’, says girls forced to marry in their early teens in these regions, face a high risk of dying in child birth and are highly likely to drop out of school early.

“Child marriage is embedded in many cultures and traditions,” says Plan UK’s chief executive in the UK, Marie Staunton. “Across the developing it often spells the end of a girl’s education.”

“Why is the international community so silent when so many girls are forced to marry when they are still children?”

Ms Sanghera was inspired to back Plan UK’s efforts following a trip to Egypt to meet religious leaders and teenagers campaigning to end the practice of underage girl being forced to marry.

The campaigner is set to discuss Plan UK’s call for action at a House of Commons event next Wednesday (July 6) bringing together civil society and policy experts.

Speaking ahead of the launch of Take the Vow Ms Sanghera said:
“I am a survivor of forced marriage and it is a horrific form of abuse. It is extremely important that we tackle early and forced marriage whether it happens here or in Africa, Asia or other parts of the world. This issue needs to be on the international agenda.”

Plan UK is campaigning to end child marriage and the practice of girls being forced to marry young. The charity is working with young people, communities and religious leaders on this issue across the developing world.

It is calling on Lynne Featherstone MP, the UK’s International Violence against Women Champion, to press for more global attention and action on this issue.

Britain’s international development policymakers are being urged to strengthen UK engagement in efforts to halt early and forced marriage.

“More can be done by the British government to strengthen its role in preventing early and forced marriage and supporting those who have fled or survived it,” says Ms Staunton.

“Child marriage is one of the biggest development issues of our time and we’re committed to raising the voices of millions of girls married young against their will.”

To join Plan UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign, visit

For more information visit