Long-term Support for Victims
last updated October 2014

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.

In addition to guaranteeing their immediate safety, legislation should ensure that survivors of forced and child marriage are provided with long-term care and support to assist with reintegration and address their physical, social and economic needs. Long-term support should protect women and girls who face the risk of retaliation from their families and former spouses and are unable to return to their families. Legislation should address their long-term needs, including identity protection, psychological counseling, reproductive health services, education, housing, financial support and vocational training.

    Legislation should state that social workers, health care providers, child protection agencies, attorneys and other professionals working with forced and early marriage victims must ensure the confidentiality of all information regarding the victim, including her identity. The whereabouts of forced and early marriage survivors should not be disclosed to anyone without prior consent. Laws should provide for penalties for unauthorized disclosure of this information.

    Legislation should provide for the development and support of long-term supervised housing projects, as recommended by the Ministry for Social and Family Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in its report, Active against Forced Marriage, for forced and child marriage survivors who a court finds cannot be reconciled with their families. 

    Legislation should provide survivors with access to health care, particularly reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS and STI treatment. (See the Health Module)

    Legislation should include or refer to family law provisions on child support, including payment schedules and means of enforcement. Annulment of a marriage should not preclude an obligation to provide the survivor with child support.

    Legislation should include provisions on financial aid to allow forced and early marriage child marriage survivors to finish school, and should mandate the creation of a fund for this purpose. Scholarships and grants should be provided to offset the cost of tuition, books, supplies, public transportation and other school-related expenses. (See: Ending Child Marriage: A Guide for Global Policy Action) Financial aid beyond secondary school may be in the form of loans and may be made contingent on school performance.

    Legislation should ensure the creation or support of skill and vocational training programs to help forced and child marriage survivors move towards economic self-sufficiency. These programs should be structured in a way to meet the particular needs of survivors of different forms of violence. For example, laws should provide survivors of child marriage with parenting skills training.

    Legislation should provide for financial assistance for survivors of child and forced marriages while they attend school and develop the skills needed to become economically independent.

    Legislation should also provide for the protection of younger siblings of known victims, as these siblings may also be at risk of forced or child marriage. Drafters should require that the state child protection agency initiate an investigation to determine whether younger siblings of a known victim are at risk of becoming victims, and apply for a protection order if necessary. (See: Section on Child Protection Provisions).

Illustrative Examples:

A program in Bangladesh added more evidence that scholarships for secondary school had a strong influence on parents’ decisions to keep their daughters in school and out of marriage. The Female Secondary School Assistance Project (FSSAP), provided scholarships for girls ages 11 to 15 to delay marriage and stay in secondary school.  A program evaluation found that secondary school enrollment for girls more than doubled from 442,000 in 1994 to more than a million in 2001. A second phase of the project, starting in 2002, worked to increase girls’ enrollment in school and the quality of their education through training teachers and recruiting more female teachers.

In Nepal, the Bhaktapur Adolescent Girls’ Education Project provides livelihood and income-generating skills to young girls  to help them support themselves financially, so that they are more likely to stay in school and avoid early marriage. Parents also participate in income-generating activities that will help them save for their daughter’s school fees. Parent education is also an important part of the program, which works with parents to find alternative solutions to the problems of poverty that do not involve marrying their daughters at a young age.

See: Population Reference Bureau, Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child Marriage, 2011,p. 5.