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 Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs