Girls’ right to education and to be free from forced early marriage
Large parts of the world including South Asia, parts of Central Asia, the Middle East and the majority of Africa, along with scattered incidences elsewhere, have chronologically arrived in the 21st century without according their girl children an equal right to education and to self-determined choice in marriage. The latter is derivative of the former, an epidemic borne of poverty but also of tradition and culture. And it must end in our lifetime, unconditionally and without regard to tolerance, political correctness, and cultural sensitivity. Preferably by accelerated persuasion, but if necessary, by coercive multilateral means – rituals of courtesy and respect for the unrespectable cannot, must not be dispositive. Almost seventy years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN’s favorite approach in deference to ‘sovereignty,’ the notion that aspirational non-binding soft law matters, has failed girls in every respect that counts. 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Youssafzai exposed a global blight of terrifying proportions, no different than the cause of the abolitionists during the 19th century, and no more amenable by slowly adaptive stimulation of consensus than Confederate society would have been despite a more than century-long campaign. After working in my native Poland protecting women from domestic violence, my time has come to turn to the root causes of the problem: the way girls are thought of, raised, trained, and treated, under pretexts of tradition, culture, religion or simply economics – not only ‘there’ but also here.