13 February, 2015 - Valentine’s Day: Heart-warming tale of teen love aims to end child marriage

Plan International Australia Child Rights Specialist Sophie Shugg is available for interviews, grabs, etc.
A broadcast-quality version of the film Young Love…It’s Complicated can be downloaded here: bit.ly/youngloveplan
Watch an embargoed version of the film now on YouTube here: bit.ly/younglovevideo

A powerful and heart-warming short film has been produced by child rights organisation Plan International Australia to celebrate Valentine’s Day – and to advocate for an end to child marriage.

Young Love…It’s Complicated tells the story of Zambian couple Saviour, 18, and Purity, 16, who are already parents to two very young children. When Purity first became pregnant, pressure from their families and community meant they had to get married.

Although the two have no doubt they are in love, they admit early pregnancy and a child marriage has ended their chances to fulfil their potential in life.

“I regret having kids at such a young age. A number of my friends have also fallen into this predicament – I wasn’t the first one,” says Saviour. “I really loved school. My ambition when I left school was to be an accountant or a doctor. That dream is now gone because I’m married.”

Says Sophie Shugg, Child Rights Specialist at Plan International Australia: “Valentine’s Day means romance and flowers here in Australia, just as marriage can mean a beautiful and affirming life-long journey. But for millions of children around the world it can be closer to a life-long jail sentence.”

“Every year 14 million girls around the world are forced or coerced into marriage – that’s nearly 39,000 a day, or two each second. One in three girls in the developing world is married by the time they are 18, but girls as young as eight can be forced into marriages for which they cannot be prepared,” Shugg says.

“These girls typically drop out of education and often fall pregnant before their bodies are fully developed – and 50,000 teenagers a year die due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth,” she says.

“Our film shows that child marriage can also have a huge impact on young boys,” Shugg adds.

But, Shugg says, Australians can play an important part in ending child marriage.

“As well as paying an unimaginable personal price, girls who are married as children also find themselves locked out of education and locked into a cycle of poverty. Supporting girls to secure their rights is one of the most effective ways Australia can help countries in the developing world work their way out of poverty.”

“Plan is involved with work around the developing world to educate and support communities and end child marriage. With massive cuts in aid looming, children more than ever need Australians to reach into their pockets and help end this hurtful practice.”

Last year, Plan released a major report into child marriage , urging the government to use its foreign aid program to specifically address child marriage and promote girls’ access to quality education, to work with development partner governments and support civil society programs to end the practice.

“Given that $11 billion in cuts to Australian aid were announced last year, it will be harder than ever to continue and extend our work to end child marriage, so we would appeal to the Australian public to give generously on Valentine’s Day so that more children will experience the positive side of love and marriage that we so take for granted,” Shugg says.

“One of the most effective ways to prevent child marriage is to ensure that girls receive a quality education, and one of the most effective ways to give a child the gift of education is to sponsor a girl through Plan.”

To sponsor a girl through Plan International Australia, visit plan.org.au

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945