LONDON and TECUCIGALPA– Honduras’s decision to fully ban child marriage for all young people under the age of 18 is a historic achievement for girls’ rights, says child rights organization Plan International.
On Wednesday, lawmakers in Honduras’s National Congress voted unanimously to raise the minimum marriage age from 16 to 18, and remove a loophole in the law which had allowed those underage to get married with the permission of their parents.
Honduran girls, supported by Plan International and its partner organisations UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund and UN Women, have been campaigning for this loophole to be closed for the past two years.
Ceily, 11, got involved in the campaign after her school began working with Plan International Honduras. “I’m very happy and grateful to Plan International for working alongside us to bring about this legal change.
“I also feel very proud of myself for playing a part in something that will mean more happiness and independence for so many girls in Honduras. My dream is that this will enable more girls to go to university, which will help our country progress and break the cycle of poverty. Plan International showed me that I can break that cycle.”
Honduras has the 30th highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 34 percent of young people getting married before the age of 18. Child marriage forces girls out of education and into a life of poor prospects—with an increased risk of violence, abuse, ill-health, or early death.
While boys are also married as children, child marriage affects girls in greater numbers and with potentially devastating consequences for their health and well-being.
Belinda Portillo, Country Director at Plan International Honduras, reflected: “This is a historic change, which has the potential to benefit the lives of millions of girls—and we couldn’t have done it without the hard work and passion of young people.
“Lawmakers hearing from girls with personal experiences of child marriage was a vital part of the process. By participating in this campaign, these young people have helped put an end to a practice that violates girls’ human rights and robs them of their childhoods.”
NOTE TO EDITORS: Ceily and Belinda Portillo, Country Director of Plan International Honduras, are available for interviews.
About Plan International USA
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.