Published on Mon, Dec 10 2012 by System Admin
Contact: Dr. Ramatu Bangura, (718) 665-2486,



December 11, 2012
NEW YORK – Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families has released a new report calling for comprehensive policy reform and direct service approaches to protect for girls forced to marry in New York City.
Download the reportThe new report, A Closer Look at Forced and Early Marriage in African Immigrant Communities in New York City, is a result of a year-long ethnographic study and Sauti Yetu’s six years of work with immigrant girls from West Africa who face early and forced marriage.
“New York City has no policy that protects a girl of any age who is being forced into a marriage under the age of 18. This is unacceptable in a city like New York that is home to children and families from across the globe. It is our hope that over the next year we can work with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services that moves us in the right direction,” says Executive Director, Zeinab Eyega.
The report’s release marks Sauti Yetu’s observance of International Human Rights Day. Sauti Yetu joins efforts with other national and international organizations who are working to draw public attention to the danger that early and forced marriage poses to the futures of girls from immigrant families in the United States. We add to these efforts a call for more research on the nuances of early and forced marriage across a variety of immigrant communities in the United States,and advocate for specific child welfare policies that protect girls.
Community-based organizations like Sauti Yetu support immigrant and refugee girls from countries with higher rates of forced and early marriage such as Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, and Niger. In fact, eighteen of the twenty countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa. In Mali, 65 percent of women aged 20–24 were married by the age of 18, and 25 percent were married by the age of 15. In Niger, over 70 percent are married by 18, and 36 percent are married before age 15. And to date, little research has been conducted to understand how the transnational networks that connect the United States to these countries of origin work to continue this harmful practice.
Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing African immigrant women and families to improve the quality of their lives, strengthen their families, and develop their communities. Sauti Yetu’s direct services, public education, and advocacy promote immigrant girls’ safe transitions into adulthood, curb violence in the family, and give poor and low-income women access to life skills and leadership opportunities.
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For more information, contact:
Dr. Ramatu Bangura, Program Director, (718) 665-2486,


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