The inter-agency Forum on Marriage and the Rights of Women and Girls was launched in November 1998 and focuses on girls' and women's rights in relation to marriage, especially the issues of early forced marriage, non-consensual sex within marriage, domestic and family violence and FGM.
The idea for the Forum came about following several meetings between Save the Children Fund, Anti-Slavery International (A-SI), CHANGE, the Child Rights Information Network, (CRIN), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development, (FORWARD). The Forum on Marriage and the Rights of Women and Girls is a network of organisations, mainly based in the UK but with international affiliates, sharing a vision of marriage as a sphere in which women and girls have inalienable rights. Our shared commitment to social justice places central importance on the need to bring principles and rights which are accepted in the public sphere into effective operation in the private sphere, particularly in marriage.
The Forum defines marriage existing in all societies as a 'formalised relationship with legal and/or social standing between individual men and women, in which sexual relations are legitimised and as an area for reproduction and child rearing which has state recognition.'
We promote the rights of women and girls to all recognised human rights including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, with a particular focus on sexual and reproductive rights, rights to inheritance and the right to marry or not. Forum members work together and individually, sharing information on models of good practice and carrying out joint advocacy activities for the greater realisation of these rights.
The Forum does not advocate against marriage but for the recognition and support of the human rights of girls and their right to full and free consent to any action which impacts on their lives. We recognise that some girls under the age of eighteen do actively wish to be married and although make all the arrangements, that this is with the full and freely given consent of the girl. We are concerned, however, that sometimes the distinction between coercion and consent may not be clear and wish to stress that the Forum's primary concern is to promote the best interest of the child.
Through The Forum's we aim to build a global network, through which we can gather and share information, in the hope of reaching a better understanding of the legal, social and health implications of the violations of girls' and women's human rights in relation to marriage. Once this has been established we hope to improve approaches to work on this issue and develop common strategies which we can carry out joint advocacy activities to monitor implementation of international conventions on the human rights of women and girls.
A number of these publications can be purchased through FORWARD, please click here for more details.