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Early marriage:


... areas encourage their daughters to marry early before potential husbands migrate ... In communities that inter-marry, a single families choice of whether or not to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early marriage:

  • Early marriage
  • An international perspective

  • Arranged marriages
  • Bridal abduction
  • Forced marriages
  • Early marriage
  • Notion of AGE and CONSENT

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Examples of early marriage
  • Rajasthan, India To facilitate the passing on of
    wealth and property within the family
  • Niger to follow tradition, reinforce ties among
    or between communities, and protect girls from
    out-of-wedlock pregnancy
  • Bangladesh Free parents from economic burden,
    protect sexual purity, fulfill role as sexual and
    domestic servant.
  • Albania Families in rural areas encourage their
    daughters to marry early before potential
    husbands migrate to cities in search of work
  • Ethiopia In some regions, 40 of girls are
    married before 15, in some cases following
    abduction and rape to avoid a bride price.

  • Maximizing fertility
  • Economic survival strategy
  • Protecting girls
  • To excuse a rape
  • Contemporary pressures

Early marriage and human rights
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
    men and women of full age full and free
  • Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
    Discrimination against Women (1979) betrothal
    and the marriage of a child shall have no legal
    effect specify legal age of marriage
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
    Best interests, rights to express his or her
    views freely, protection from exploitation
  • African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the
    Child (1999)

  • Child marriage and the betrothal of girls and
  • boys shall be prohibited and effective action,
  • including legislation, shall be taken to specify
  • minimum age of marriage to be 18 years and make
  • registration of all marriages in an official
  • compulsory
  • African Charter for the Rights and Welfare of the

Considerations for national legislation
  • Often early marriage may be prohibited in
    existing civil or common law, but condoned in
    customary or religious laws and practice
  • National laws often discriminatory, setting a
    lower minimum age for girls
  • South African Recognition of Customary Marriages
    Act sets an appropriate minimum age and requires
  • Allows children under the minimum age to be
    married with the permission of their parents or a

  • Psychosocial harm
  • Risks of early pregnancy and childbirth
  • HIV risks
  • Denial of education
  • Violence and abandonment

Taking action some examples
  • Uganda Teenage Health Information Service
  • Bangladesh Secondary School Scholarships for
  • Egypt New Horizons Nonformal Education
  • Pakistan Involving Boys
  • India Grants to postpone marriage
  • Burkina Faso Refuge for girls
  • Senegal Community training to address FGM/C

Lessons from tackling Female Genital
  • FGM/C as a self-reinforcing social convention
  • In communities that inter-marry, a single
    families choice of whether or not to continue the
    tradition is conditioned by the choice of others.
  • Through the TOSTAN Community Empowerment
    Programme about 3,800 villages in Senegal out of
    the 5,000 that practice FGM/C have publicly
    announced their abandonment of the practice

Six key elements for change
  • A non-coercive and non-judgmental approach whose
    primary focus is the fulfillment of human rights
  • An awareness on the part of a community of the
    harm caused by the practice.
  • The decision to abandon the practice as a
    collective choice of a group that intramarries or
    is closely connected in other ways
  • An explicit, public affirmation on the part of
    communities of their collective commitment
  • A process of organized diffusion to ensure that
    the decision to abandon FGM/C spreads rapidly
    from one community to another and is sustained
  • An environment that enables and supports change
    (Government commitment, civil society
    involvement, support in media)

Taking action against early marriage
  • Actions should be addressed at those already
    married, as well as preventive actions aimed at
    wider society.
  • - Sex education and reproductive health services
  • - Education for girls
  • Support for girls in marriage and those that
  • Livelihood and life-skills for girls
  • Birth and marriage registration (including record
    of consent)
  • Advocacy and awareness raising

Some suggestions for advocacy
  • Campaign to ensure implementation of legal age of
  • Promote an effective system of registration of
    births and marriages
  • Set up small scale studies into the implications
    of early marriage
  • Raise awareness via social mobilisation involving
    womens networks, opinion leaders, politicians
    and community leaders (International Womens Day,
    16 days of Activism
  • Work with media to emphasize womens rights,
    equality, access to education, freedom from
    exploitation and discrimination
  • Work with men to promote attitudinal change.
  • Importance of working at local level.

Stephen BlightChief, Child ProtectionUNICEF
South Africasblight_at_unicef.org082 561 1426
  • Thank you
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