(ANSA) - New York, September 26 - The right to choose one's
spouse was recognised in 1946 in the Universal Declaration on
Human Rights, but ''even today, too many women and girls are
denied this right'', Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told
the United Nations.
''The time has come for us to raise our voices and act with
courage to underscore the seriousness of this human rights
violation,'' Bonino said in her speech to the Core Group of
countries leading the campaign against forced marriage on
The meeting was held in New York on the sidelines of the UN
General Assembly and was organised by Core Group members Canada,
the Netherlands, and Ghana.
Italy joined the group recently.
''Up until now, the United Nations has dealt with the issue
as part of the Omnibus Resolutions, considering it within a
wider context that includes the struggle against violence
against women and child abuse''. she said.
''But the issue is too important to be only one of many on
It is also an issue that Bonino cares strongly about and
which fits into a series of wide-ranging campaigns for women and
their dignity, the minister told ANSA.
''It is a campaign that I have been following for years,
alongside that against female genital mutilation, since these
two horrible practices are linked and present in the same
countries,'' she said, underscoring that ''forced marriages are
a form of slavery''.
The practice is also widespread.
In the 2000-2011 period, 34% of women in 41 developing
countries between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before
their 18th birthday.
In 2010 some 67 million women found themselves in this
situation, including 12% of whom were married before reaching
''We must raise our voices together with those of the
victims of early and forced marriages and provide a political
and legal framework to protect them,'' Bonino said at the
meeting in New York.
She also said that Italy would continue to contribute to
these efforts, as it does to other campaigns for the protection
and promotion of human rights.