News / Africa

UN Urges End to Child Marriages

Newly wed Mamta Bai, 12, and her husband Bablu, 14, stands inside a temple in Rajgarh, about 155 kilometers (96 miles) from Bhopal, India, May 6, 2011.
Newly wed Mamta Bai, 12, and her husband Bablu, 14, stands inside a temple in Rajgarh, about 155 kilometers (96 miles) from Bhopal, India, May 6, 2011.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations is warning the rate of girls under the age of 18 who are married off by their parents will rise dramatically if current trends are not reversed.  Little progress in ending child marriage has been made during the past decade.

Salamatou Aghali Issoufa was a 16-year old student in the African country of Niger when her parents told her they were marrying her off to a 50-year old man who already had a wife and children.  Issoufa says she did not want that, she wanted to stay in school and finish her diploma.

“So I went to see my eldest brother who was more educated than I was," she said.  "So I spoke to him, I asked him, if you could help me.  I said I do not agree, can I study?  I would like to continue [studying].  Then this elder brother went to see my parents.  He won them over as en elder.  He spoke to them, to the point that they were convinced."

Issoufa was not forced to marry and was able to continue her studies - an uncommon case in her country, which has the highest prevalence of child marriages in Africa.

Her story is also rare on a global scale, according to the new U.N. report "Marrying Too Young:  End Child Marriage."  The study found that in 2010, one-in-three young women aged 20 to 24 had been married off before the age of 18 - more than 67 million girls.

Although child marriages happen virtually everywhere, U.N. Population Fund head Babatunde Osotimehin says it happens most often in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, exposing millions of girls to grave consequences.

“It [child marriage] jeopardizes their right to education, including comprehensive sexuality education, health, survival and the development to their fullest.  It excludes a girl from decisions, such as the timing of marriage and the choice of a spouse, and also timing of children and the spacing between those children,” said Osotimehin.

Osotimehin notes that girls who are poor, have little or no education, and live in rural areas are most likely to marry too young.  The study also found that girls with no education are more than three times more likely to marry before 18 than those with secondary or higher educations.

The U.N. Population Fund head says these girls are exposed to life threatening health consequences, such as complications from pregnancy and childbirth, lack of access to contraception, and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, from their often older husbands.

During a news conference on Thursday to launch the report, South Africa’s activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged an end to child marriage.

“It is viciously cruel!  These children who have to sleep with old men do not even know what they are going to be doing in bed.  It is vicious!  And please be committed and say this is something we want to end; it is a cruelty,” he said.

Despite efforts to end the practice, the United Nations warns that if current trends continue, the number of young girls married off before the age of 18 will more than double - to 142 million - during the coming decade.

The study's authors urge governments on national and local levels to raise the marriage age to 18 and enforce it.  They also say education is key to ending the practice.

As for Salamatou Aghali Issoufa of Niger, she was able to continue her education and become a midwife.  Not only does she help other women, but she also earns an income.  She met a man she chose to be married to and is now the mother of a young daughter with another child on the way - two children who will be part of a new generation to be taught the importance of marrying as adults.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

update There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid