Los Angeles Dodger star pitcher Clayton Kershaw is fresh off of winning his first World Series championship, but he’s using his offseason for more than just getting ready for 2021.
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On Thursday, which was Human Rights Day, Kershaw wrote an op-ed for CNN.com, detailing how he and his wife, Ellen, have joined with the International Justice Mission and other organizations to urge the Dominican Constitutional Court to declare child marriage unconstitutional.
“A report from UNICEF shows that one in four girls in Latin America and the Caribbean marries or enters into an early union before reaching 18 years old,” Kershaw wrote. “Troublingly, the Dominican Republic has the highest rate in the region. Currently, there is a devastating loophole in the law of the Dominican Republic, which legally allows children to be forced into marriage.
“Marriages are banned under a minimum age — for girls, 15 years old — but the law lets judges make exceptions.”
Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, run a foundation, Kershaw’s Challenge, that leads them to working with people in Zambia and the Dominican Republic. This issue is one that’s close to him, he wrote.
“Zambia’s rates of child marriage are also high — as are those of other countries in Latin America besides the Dominican Republic,” he wrote. “But given the country’s laws and some recent efforts to change them, the Dominican Republic’s rates of child marriage would appear closer to a tipping point.”
Kershaw’s foundation is “a faith-based, others-focused organization. We exist to encourage people to use whatever God-given passion or talent they have to make a difference and give back to people in need. We want to empower people to use their spheres of influence to impact communities positively and to expand God’s Kingdom. We believe that God can transform at-risk children and neighborhoods through the benevolence and impact of others.”
“As a father, I want nothing less for my children than to experience that same freedom to…dream and decide who they want to become, but when children are forced into marriage, their freedom to dream…is taken away.”- @ClaytonKersh22 https://t.co/9qZhpm3uEI #nolacases
— Intl Justice Mission (@IJM) December 11, 2020
Since 2011, the Kershaws have been using their foundation to invest in local communities and internationally. With baseball being such a prevalent sport in the Dominican Republic, Clayton wrote that he feels a special pull toward that country and wants to use his platform as a Major League Baseball player to help those in need there.
“As a kid growing up, I dreamed of playing baseball in the major leagues and winning a World Series,” he wrote. “So winning it in 2020 was quite literally a dream come true, but even with all of the notoriety that has come with awards and recognition over my baseball career, the most important thing people can do is use their platform for positive change.”
Kershaw wrote about his own upbringing and the freedoms he’s been able to experience, particularly during his childhood. It’s his wish to see every child experience that same freedom, he said. When children are forced into marriage, that freedom can be taken away.
“It has devastating and long-term impacts on children, like limiting their development opportunities, exposing them to other forms of violence like sexual abuse, early pregnancy and dropping out of school,” he wrote. “It can even make them vulnerable to sex trafficking.”
Kershaw has long been open about his faith. In 2013, he shared his story of faith and baseball, and how that led him and Ellen to launch their foundation:
You can read Kershaw’s full CNN editorial here to learn how you can get involved to help. You can also visit IJM.org to learn about other ways to support this movement. IJM is an anti-human trafficking organization dedicated to both raising awareness of trafficking and actively freeing those trapped in it. Its foundation rests on Biblical principles: “We’re inspired by God’s call to love all people and seek justice.”
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