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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid