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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on Child Marriage

NEW YORK, 13 April 2009 - UNICEF is deeply concerned by reports that Saudi Arabian tribunals have decided not to annul the marriage of an eight-year-old girl. Irrespective of circumstances or the legal framework, the marriage of a child is a violation of that child’s rights.

The right to free and full consent to marriage is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consent cannot be free and full when either party to a marriage is too young to make an informed decision.

UNICEF joins many in voicing concern that child marriage contravenes accepted international standards of human rights. It can also have a long term detrimental effect on the child’s emotional, physical and psychological welfare.

For further information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF New York, Tel: 1 212 303 7984, Email, cdebono@unicef.org




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