For the first time, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have come together to make a joint general recommendation/general comment. The two committees address the issues of harmful practices i.e female genital mutilation, child marriage and/or forced marriage, polygamy and crimes committed in the name of so-called honor (the document can be downloaded below).
Concerning child marriage, the Committees make the following recommendations:
(f) A minimum legal age of marriage for girls and boys is established, with or without parental consent, at 18 years. When exceptions to marriage at an earlier age are allowed in exceptional circumstances, the absolute minimum age is not below 16 years, grounds for obtaining permission are legitimate and strictly defined by law and marriage is permitted only by a court of law upon full, free and informed consent of the child or both children who appear in person before the court;
(g) A legal requirement of marriage registration is established and effective implementation is provided through awareness-raising, education and existence of adequate infrastructure to make registration accessible to all persons within their jurisdiction.
(h) A system of national compulsory, accessible and free birth registration of all children is established, in order to effectively prevent harmful practices including child marriages; (...)
The Committees also stress the importance to effectively empower girls and women through compulsory primary education, educational and economic opportunities, awareness raising on their human rights and gender equality and age-appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.