Core Elements in Child Protection Laws and Systems to Protect against Forced and Child Marriage
Last updated May 2010
 
The following elements should be established as the core elements in child protection laws and systems to protect against forced and child marriage.  Elements are discussed in detail further below.
 
Legislation should provide for an emergency order for protection remedy for a female in need of protection from undergoing forced and child marriage. 
 
Legislation should authorize the removal of the child from the home if the court determines that a responsible adult has a reasonable fear that a parent or parents or guardian are considering authorizing the performance of forced and child marriage. 
 
Legislation should authorize the placement of a child in danger of forced and child marriage in a shelter, refuge or foster home.  
 
Legislation should authorize the continuing placement of a child in a shelter or foster home until the child can be reconciled with the family, or, if the parent or parents will not give up their intention to force a minor child into forced and child marriage, authorization for the child to continue in shelter or foster care and attend school locally, or attend a boarding school to continue her education.
 
Legislation should authorize the suspension of travel authority for the child if the court determines that the parents are considering authorizing forced and child marriage or if the court determines that the child or a responsible adult has a reasonable fear that the parents are considering authorizing forced and child marriage. 
 
Legislation should provide for procedures by which the parents can regain custody of the minor child, including receiving counseling and warnings.  Once the minor child has been returned to her parents, legislation should provide for on-going visits to the minor child by social service providers and counselors to ensure the well-being of the minor child. Legislation should provide for counseling of parents to ensure that minor children do not receive pressure to enter into a forced and child marriage.
 
Legislation should provide that where court orders are issued for protection against forced and child marriage, the order remain in place until the parents have demonstrated at a court hearing that they understand the adverse consequences of forced and child marriage, and that they will not subject their daughter to forced and child marriage. 
 
Legislation should provide for child-centered legal services, including representation for petitioning for civil or criminal liability victim compensation. 
 
Legislation should presume that there is no justification for forced and child marriage and it is in the child’s best interests to not marry before the age of 18. For example, Ghana Children’s Act of 1998, section 5 states:
  • “No person shall deny a child the right to live with his parents and family and grow up in a caring and peaceful environment unless it is proved in court that living with his parents would—
    • (a) lead to significant harm to the child; or
    • (b) subject the child to serious abuse; or
    • (c) not be in the best interest of the child.