Recent research has shown an increase in early child marriages in many parts of Africa. If present trends continue, 150 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday over the next decade. That’s an average of 15 million girls each year. In sub-Saharan Africa, 66% of women with no education were married before age 18 compared to only 13% of those with secondary education.
This issue is affecting young girls all over Africa. South Africa is also on the spotlight with the practice of ukuthwalwa. Early child marriages often deprive the children of educational and empowerment opportunities. Furthermore, these marriages continue to perpetuate issues of poverty as well as human rights violations. Often young children marry older men primarily because of money, which serves a method of alleviating a family’s economic and social needs. This subjects the young child to high risks of early child mortality and contracting HIV together with other STIs. In other African countries governments are busy pushing the legal marriage age from 16 to 12 years old!!!.
To discuss more on these issues, on the 14th of August 2015 Africa Unite held a women’s day celebration event with the theme, ‘Can Early Child Marriage Promote
MDGs/Sustainable Development?’ The event was held at the 6 Spin Street Restaurant and more than fifty young women from different backgrounds and various Ngo’s in Cape Town (Gugulethu, Delft, Hanover Park, Nyanga, Observatory, Khayelithsa,).
Mrs Zeenat Osman – Nieftagodien Child Counsellor Saartjie Baartman Centre For Women & Children one of the guest speakers of the day highlighted the negative psychological aspects of early child marriage. She was followed by the main speaker of the day Dr Maria Ivone Soares Vice-chairperson on Youth Caucus- Pan African Parliament, member of the Justice and Human Rights Permanent Committee and Chief Whip of Renamo in Mozambican National Assembly.
Dr Soares electrified the audience and interacted with all the participants in order for them to give their view on early child marriage.
She also explained that a child of 12 – 15 years physically, psychologically and emotionally is not ready to give birth, take care of another child and be a wife at the same time. A child of this age her place is at school than to be a wife. She mentioned that child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and it needs to be abolished. To conclude she invited all young people to stand against such practices.
As a young Parliamentarian in Pan African Parliament, Dr Soares was officially nominated by Africa Unite as Youth Champion of Voice Africa’s Future campaign (VAF) on Africa Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She also signed the the Voice
Africa’s Future petition, an African Youth call for action in the post – 2015 development agenda and wore the Action 2015 t-shirt in support of the campaign. We believe that Dr Soares will represent the voices of young people on various continental and international platforms.
The Voice Africa’s Future is a campaign that intends to enable and promote thevoices and aspirations of young people regarding a better Africa which they dream to live in.
For Pictures click here.