By Loose Lips Mag
Roughly 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 each year. While the numbers are staggering, globally speaking, many North Americans would be surprised to learn it’s more common in their own backyard than they know.
Recognizing the horrors of forced marriage as a human rights violation, UN Women along with the support of Canadian humanitarian leaders are hosting Not Yet For The Dress, an event to raise awareness on abolishing early and forced marriage. Taking place this Sunday (May 28) at Krause Berry Farms, Not Yet For The Dress is a gala, auction, fashion show and dinner featuring celebrity restaurateur Mark Brand. Serving up a Mediterranean feast and raspberry champagne from Krause Berry Farms, the evening will be dotted with diplomats and celebrities.
“This has been put together by an amazing collective of women, and a few male representatives who are championing the cause in order to showcase to the community that this is an issue that needs attention, and this is an issue that actually affects Canadians,” says Kerry Gibson, UN Women Canadian Liaison.
“It also affects our LQBTQ communities. Often, people who are forced into straight marriages or an honorouable death. And that’s not much of choice. They are 700 million children being currently affected by this. Women are impoverished are forced into marriages, people with developmental disabilities. Traditionally, in some cultures, this has been the way to take care of these issues.”
Mandy Sanghera, child rights activist and founder of the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK, will be championing the cause.
“People think they have a right to make life-changing decisions on behalf of their children,” she says.
“Forced marriage and arranged marriage are very different. Forced marriage is when a child is put under duress and put under pressure, and they’re told they’re going to marry even if they don’t want to, that’s it. That’s not acceptable. We need to challenge and end those practices. We need to understand there’s nothing [acceptable] about abuse. We need to be clear about protecting the young person instead of being obsessed with political correctness.”
With support from Sophie Trudeau, Sanghera and the rest of UN Women will take the floor to show Canada’s commitment to ending child marriage.
“These are not religious practices, they are cultural practices which have no place in B.C., there is no place for it in Canada. We need to raise awareness about these issues,” Sanghera says.
Narges Nirumvala of the Dixon Transition Society, a non-profit society supporting women and children fleeing domestic violence, echoes the sentiment.
“We’re trying to support organizations that end child marriage and really just support women and children and girls. To me, it’s vital, and I can never do enough for that cause,” she told Loose Lips.
Kristi and Brittany are the co-founders and co-editors of Loose Lips Mag. Together, they’re building their feminist media empire and leaving the patriarchy, charcuterie boards, and empty bottles of wine in their wake.You can find them in Gastown sniffing out other women warriors or fuelling up at local coffee shops.