So here I am in Nusa Dua, Indonesia after the opening session of the 4th International Conference on Family Planning. I’m still spinning from UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin’s opening remarks: he spoke of the family planning needs of married girls.
This remark is monumental. Married girls are among the most marginalized and invisible groups of human beings. Child marriage negatively impacts every aspect of a girl’s life, and when she marries she loses control over her own body. Her husband not only controls her access to family planning, but he often denies her the ability to refuse sex. Forced sex is common, and all sex is rape because she is a child. Child marriage often leads to early first pregnancy, and together pregnancy and child birth remain the leading cause of death for very young adolescents in the Global South.
What does this mean? This means that delaying child marriage is family planning. This also means that we must figure out how to get past the power structures in a girl child’s marriage to provide her with access to all of her human rights, including family planning. I look forward to presenting on this topic here at the ICFP on Wednesday.
I’m happy to be in Indonesia this week, and even happier to known that married girls are on the global agenda. Thanks for remembering child brides today, Executive Director Osotimehin.