News / Africa

African Union Starts Campaign to Curb Child Marriage

FILE - Bridesmaids from Kenya's smallest ethnic group, El-molo, prepare for a wedding ceremony in Loiyangalani, northeastern Kenya.
FILE - Bridesmaids from Kenya's smallest ethnic group, El-molo, prepare for a wedding ceremony in Loiyangalani, northeastern Kenya.
Marthe van der Wolf
Fourteen million girls below the age of 18 are forced into marriage each year by their parents in developing countries.  Most of these countries are in Africa where at least 30 percent of girls are married before age 18, often against their will.   Now the African Union has launched a two-year campaign to end child marriage in Africa.
 
Zenabu a 16-year-old girl from Niger says that she was taken out of school by her parents to get married, but her husband would beat her if she didn’t want him to touch her.  She ran away to her parents, but they also beat her and returned her to the husband.  She says she eventually ran away to an aunt and wants to go back to school.
 
Girls married at a young age often have mental anguish, suffer health problems due to early pregnancies and are less likely to get an education.  Most of them come from poorly educated families and rural areas where girls cannot oppose the cultural norms of the family and community.
 
The African Union campaign to end child marriage is focused on policy action and raising continental awareness.  The director of the AU Social Affairs Commission, Olawale Maiyegun, says member states of the AU should follow and implement legal frameworks that protect children.  

“The Charter on the Rights of the Child, for example, has clear provisions on harmful practices against the child.  It’s clear in the provisions of the charter, that cultural or religious or whatever should not be an excuse and states must take measures to eliminate them.  People use all sorts of excuses to perpetuate what they are doing but it’s not an excuse as far as the commission is concerned,” said Maiyegun.
 
Among African countries, child marriage rates are highest in Niger and Chad, with rates above 70 percent.  
 
In Zambia, the rate is 42 percent.  Ten government ministries, including health, education, and legal affairs are working together to bring that rate down.

Zambian Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Nkandu Luo says traditional chiefs are also trying to change the cultural norm about child marriage in the country:

“The reason we felt that the chiefs should be the ones, is because it hinges on customary law and there is also a believe it has to do with our cultures.  And when any parent is reported to the chief, first of all they appear before the chief because there is the traditional court.  And they are charged according to the decision by the traditional court.  But also they make sure they take that child out of marriage and put her back into school,” said Luo.
 
The End Child Marriage campaign of the AU is done in cooperation with African governments, UNICEF and civil society organizations.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
May 29, 2014 6:09 AM
Is underage child marriage Muslim thing, as Western media reported earlier this century, or black African thing? Any one out there who has better knowledge about this subject ...please respond!

In Response

by: Cory from: USA
June 06, 2014 4:34 PM
Seeing as how child marriages were done in Europe in the Middle Ages I'd say it's kind of been universal at some points, thankfully there are calls for reform.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid