ATEST Welcomes Passage of the Girls Count Act
For Release: June 3, 2015
Washington, DC – The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) welcomes the passage of the Girls Count Act as a strong measure to protect all children from exploitation and violence, such as human trafficking and forced labor.
The Girls Count Act makes it U.S. Government policy to encourage other countries to ensure girls and boys of all ages are full participants in society, including requiring birth certifications and some type of identity card. It authorizes the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator to support programs to improve Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (CRVS), with a focus on birth registration. In addition, the Act authorizes programs that help prevent discrimination against girls; increases property rights, social security, and inheritance rights for women; and ensures that girls from poor households obtain equitable access to social programs.
“Without an age established by birth certificate, there is no protection against child labor, against being treated as an adult in the justice system, against forcible conscription in armed forces, against child marriage and trafficking,” said Melysa Sperber, Director of ATEST.
Birth registration is a fundamental human right that can safeguard children from harm and exploitation. According to UNICEF, 230 million children under the age of five have never been registered with civil authorities.
In many cases, the lack of citizenship has been identified as a major risk factor for girls and women to be trafficked or exploited. Birth registration helps in the prosecution of people violating child labor laws by proving a child’s age in courts. Equally important, it will help to ensure that children all across the globe will have access to basic services in their home countries, such as education, voting rights, and land tenure rights.
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and World Vision. ATEST is a project of Humanity United.