The cultural practice of early marriage is one of the most potent threats to the rights of children in modern times with its disturbingly recurring effects being very prevalent in many parts of Africa.
How disturbing you may ask.. Well, Here are 12 Disturbing Facts About Child Marriage In Africa.
- Approximately 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18. All African countries are faced with the challenge of child marriage, whether they experience high child marriage prevalence, such as Niger (76%) or lower rates like Algeria (3%). Child marriage is widespread in West and Central Africa (42%) as well as Eastern and Southern Africa (36%).
- Girls who marry young are often denied a range of human rights: many must discontinue their education, face serious health risks from early and multiple pregnancies, and suffer sexual and domestic violence.
- Poverty is commonly cited by girls and family members as driving decisions to marry young. For poor families, with little money even for food and basic necessities, marrying their daughter early is an economic survival strategy: it means one less child to feed or educate.
- More than half of girls in Guinea are married before age 18. While the country recently banned marriage for those under that age, observers say the practice remains widespread. Some girls enter arranged marriages during times of insecurity or when families are under economic strain.
- Although many African countries have established 18 as the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls, weak enforcement has meant these laws have had little impact.
- Traditional beliefs about gender roles and sexuality and women and girls’ subordination strengthen many customary practices, such as payment of dowry or bride price, which perpetuate child marriage. In a context of limited economic resources and opportunities, girls are often seen as economic assets whose marriages provide cattle, other animals, money, and gifts.For example, dowry payment is a key driver of child marriage in South Sudan, where families see their daughters as sources of wealth.
- In 2012, 70 million women 20-24 around the world had been married before the age of 18.
- Human Rights Watch research has shown that child marriage has dire life-long consequences, often completely halting or crippling a girl’s ability to realize a wide range of human rights.
- Child marriage directly violates rights to health, education, equality and non-discrimination, consensual marriage, employment, and to live free from violence and discrimination, which are enshrined in international human rights standards and institutions.
- The UN estimates that 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.
While the harms caused by child marriage are grim, the benefits of ending the practice are transformative and far-reaching.
Tackling child marriage is a strategic way to advance women’s rights and empowerment in several areas, ranging from health, education, work, freedom from violence, and participation in public life. In order to do so, it is essential that all relevant stakeholders—including community and religious leaders; school teachers and administrators; health care workers; police, prosecutors, and the judiciary; government officials; media; parents, and of course, girls and boys—understand and commit to their role in ending child marriage.