02.07.2017-Human Rights Council adopts resolution to end child, early and forced marriage

On Thursday 2 July, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution co-sponsored by over 85 States to strengthen efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage, a practice that affects 15 million girls every year. The resolution is the first-ever substantive resolution on child marriage adopted by the Council.

It recognises child marriage as a violation of human rights “that prevents individuals from living their lives free from all forms of violence” and that has “wide ranging and adverse consequences on the enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to education, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health”. It also recognises child marriage as a “barrier to sustainable development” that “helps to perpetuate the cycle of poverty”.

Supported by a cross-regional group of 88 States, including from countries with high rates of child marriage, the resolution demonstrates global support for ending child marriage and making it a human rights and development priority in the post-2015 development framework.

Indeed, this resolution comes at a timely moment, just a few months before States adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious framework that could transform the world by 2030. The proposed framework includes target 5.3, “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations”, under goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

It complements the resolution adopted at the UN General Assembly last year by bringing a human rights perspective to national efforts, which will be essential to protect girls from child marriage and support those who are already married.

Although it does not call for comprehensive sex education as a key component to prevent and end child marriage, which was a priority for many advocates, it goes further than last year’s General Assembly resolution by urging governments to promote and protect the human rights of all women and girls, including their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality. It also advances on previous resolutions by taking into consideration child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian and fragile situations.

The resolution recognises the need for national action plans on child marriage, and encourages States to work with civil society to develop and implement a holistic, comprehensive and coordinated response to address child marriage and support married girls, which will be critical to the successful implementation of the SDGs and target 5.3.

Finally, the resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to organise an expert workshop in March 2017 to “review and discuss the impact of existing strategies and initiatives to address child, early and forced marriages and make recommendations for further action by States and the international community”.

This concrete next step will be an opportunity to discuss practical tools to assist States in the implementation of their human rights obligation to address child marriage and support married girls.

Child marriage is a human rights violation

Child, early and forced marriage is a global problem which cuts across countries, cultures, religious and ethnicities and affects approximately 15 million girls every year.
Child marriage disempowers girls for life, depriving them of their agency, their right to health, education and a life free from violence.
Child brides have little or no say in if, when and whom they marry. Once married, it is extremely difficult for girls to assert their needs to their usually older husbands.
Child brides are often pressured into motherhood, putting them at risk of death or injury during childbirth. Girls who give birth before 18 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women aged 20-24.
After marriage child brides usually drop out of school, if they were in school at all. Over 60% of child brides in developing countries have had no formal education.
A girl who married before 18 is more likely to experience physical, sexual and psychological violence throughout her life.
Background on the resolution

This year’s resolution was requested by a joint statement adopted last year at the Human Rights Council. It builds on the short, procedural resolution on child, early and forced marriage adopted in 2013 by recognising child marriage as a human rights and barrier to sustainable development.
The resolution also incorporates recommendations from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)’s report on preventing and eliminating child marriage, to which many Girls Not Brides members contributed.

@bonelaethics Gaining Traction by Action Girls Not Brides


The  Botswana  Network  on  Ethics  Law  and  HIV/AIDS  (BONELA)  condemns  all  forms  of  Gender  Based Violence against women and young girls.
This  call  follows an incident that  took place at Gaborone Bus Rank recently, where a young woman was verbally abused, stripped naked and publicly humiliated and degraded by a mob of men. The perpetrators attempted to justify their actions with the fact that the young woman was wearing a short skirt.
“Such  acts  of  violence  against  women  and  young  girls  should  be  condemned  in  the  strongest  terms possible  as  they  limit  women  and  girl’s  constitutional  rights  to  freedom  of  movement,  freedom  of expression  and  the  right  to  dignity.  Women  are  rights  holders  and  society  should,  therefore  respect, promote and protect these rights”, said Cindy Kelemi, Executive Director of BONELA.

The  Protocol  on  Gender  and  Development  (2008),  defines  Gender  Based  Violence  as  all  acts  perpetrated against women, men, girls, and boys on the basis of their sex which cause or could cause them physical, sexual psychological, emotional or economic harm - including the threat to take such acts or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace times or during situations of armed or other forms of conflicts.

Gender  Based  Violence  Indicators  Study,  found  that  over  two-thirds  of  women  in  Botswana  have experienced  some  form  of  gender-based  violence  in  their  lifetime,  and  67%  of  women  reported  being victims  of  intimate  partner  violence.  “The  high  incidence  of  Gender  Based  Violence  is  a  clear  indication that  we  need  to  strengthen  our  gender  programmes  at  community  as  well  as  policy  levels.  The  family therefore plays a key role in educating both the boy and girl child about Gender Based Violence in order to build a violence free society”, said Felistus Motimedi, Programmes Manager at BONELA.
BONELA therefore calls on:

-  The Police to investigate the Bus Rank incident, and ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
-  Civil  society  organisations  to  intensify  community  sensitization  on  Gender  Based  Violence  to prevent such from recurring.
-  The  public,  particularly  men,  to  lead  the  fight  against  gender-based  violence  by  modelling  good practice.

For more information, contact BONELA on:
+267 393 2516 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow BONELA on
Twitter @bonelaethics and like our Facebook Page BONELA


Botswana Network on Ethics on Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) as a human rights organization servicing children recognizes and commemorates the Day of the African Child, which is commemorated on 16 June every year since 1991.

The day was initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in honor of those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. The day also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

The Day of the African Child (DAC) 2017 is commemorated under the theme “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”. The Child friendly version is “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030.
This year’s theme re-affirms the importance of linking the 2030 Agenda with child rights, it also draws attention to the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals targets and indicators for children should be brought closer to the African Charter reporting cycle as well as inspire State Parties to accelerate efforts towards realizing all children’s rights as provided by the Charter, as a contribution towards accelerating the protection and promotion of all children’s rights in Africa.

This theme is relevant for Botswana taking into account the gaps that still exist in the protection and empowerment of children and the creation of equal opportunities for all children in Botswana. Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) funded by Save the Children International (SCI) has been implementing a project called Children’s Rights aimed at contributing to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of children’s rights in Botswana.

The project focuses on promoting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of children in general and those in difficult circumstances like poverty, disability and discriminated for various reasons. One of the challenges that BONELA has recognized in the protection of children in Botswana is the fact that the child protection laws need to be aligned to the Constitution of Botswana and the Children’s Act of 2009, particularly on the definition of a child and addressing issues of sexual abuse and defilement.
The Children’s Act 2009 that provides for the protection, empowerment and non-discrimination of all children in Botswana has also not been widely disseminated across the country especially in rural areas.

With the passage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for 2030, BONELA believes that this has set a transformational progression for the future of child development. These also require stakeholders and others relevant personnel to be involved in implementing this agenda such that it delivers for all children in Botswana.


Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, (BONELA) has filed an urgent application before the High Court of the Republic of Botswana in a case in which a form 5 student at a local Senior Secondary School in #Gaborone was barred from writing end of term examinations by the school authorities.

BONELA prays that the Court order the following:

a) that this matter be heard as an urgent application and the court dispense with the forms and service provided for in the Rules;

b) that the 4th Respondent’s decision to suspend 2nd Applicant from #Ledumang_Secondary_School on the 23rd March 2017 be reviewed, corrected and/or set aside;

c) that the Applicant file an application for judicial review reviewing the decision of the 4th Respondent on or before the 8th of April 2017;

d) that pending the institution, hearing and finalisation of the application for judicial review, the 4th Respondent be interdicted from implementing its decision to suspend the 2nd Applicant from school;

e) that the respondent be and is hereby ordered to pay costs of this application.


The case will be heard, in the #Lobatse_High_Court tomorrow, Wednesday the 29th of March 2017 at 14:30Hrs

For more information contact Dr.Bonolo Dinokopila BONELA Board Chairperson on 72273034 or the Director on +267 72385054

Tel +267 393 2516 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow BONELA on Twitter on @bonelaethics and like our Facebook Page - BONELA

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