UN agencies welcome African-led push to end child marriage

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Sena5
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Original Post by UN News Centre

UN agencies welcome African-led push to end child marriage

Child marriages keep girls out of school. Photo: IRIN/Mujahid Safodien
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29 May 2014 – Two United Nations agencies today welcomed the first campaign by the African Union to end child marriage, a practice that robs over 17 million girls – 1 in 3 – across the continent of their youth.

“What we are seeing today is an Africa-wide movement of leaders and organizations collectively saying ‘No to Child Marriage’,” said Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“This push led by Africans for Africans must not stop until every girl in every family and every community has the right to reach her 18th birthday before getting married,” he added in a news release.

The campaign, launched today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is set to run for an initial period of two years with national launches anticipated in 10 countries.

Although civil society actors have been pressing hard on the issue of child marriage for several years, this is the first time that such a large range of government officials, organizations, UN agencies and individuals, including youth and children, are vowing to collectively end child marriage.

“Data makes it clear that child marriage is first and foremost a grave threat to young girls’ lives, health and future prospects and a breach of girls’ fundamental human rights,” said Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

“The costs of inaction, in terms of rights unrealized, foreshortened personal potential and lost development opportunities, far outweigh the costs of interventions,” added Dr. Onabanjo.

The UN agencies noted that since girl brides often come from the most marginalized families in African societies, strong and sustained political commitment to adopt appropriate legal, institutional, social and economic measures to keep them away from child marriage will be required.

Globally, 9 out of the 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are found in Africa –namely Niger (75 per cent), Chad and Central African Republic (68 per cent), Guinea (63 per cent), Mozambique (56 per cent), Mali (55 per cent), Burkina Faso and South Sudan (52 per cent), and Malawi (50 per cent).

According to the UN, more than 140 million girls worldwide will become child brides between 2011 and 2020 if current rates continue. Of these, 50 million girls will be under the age of 15.

Aside from UNFPA and UNICEF, the campaign brings together a large range of partners, including the Ford Foundation, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Save the Children, Plan international, Africa Child Policy Forum and the United Kingdom Department for International Development.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.as...4#.U5FAm3YsFyE

SC Members and country representatives and all members- Your Opinions?
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Sena5
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In my view, I support this and will vote for the child marriage to banned and warned not to occur. It should be filed as some crime in the law if it was done. So, everyone would stop it seriously if it was said strictly.
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Sena5
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alexgr97
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Iceland is proud that its legal marriage age is 18 and applauds the work done by the UN and the campaigns by Africa Union to implement this across across. However, Iceland also recognises the fact that, whilst this is a remarkable first step, there is plenty more work to be done to ensure this right is universal and we must therefore unite as nations to combat this problem.
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RoryS
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Thanks for beginning this discussion however I won't be commenting as I need to remain impartial.
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Sena5
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Thanks for beginning this discussion however I won't be commenting as I need to remain impartial.
Okay Rory, No worries about that. I understand your point.
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junior.doctor
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(Original post by kers123)
It should be filed as some crime in the law if it was done. So, everyone would stop it seriously if it was said strictly.
Madagascar thinks that this is a very simplistic view and not at all realistic. Just because something is illegal, doesn't stop people doing it. Whilst making child marriage illegal in each country would be a start, attitudes need to change and education must take place.

In Madagascar, most rural marriages are 'traditional', and are not legalised by the state - merely recognised by their local village. This means that anything legal is very hard to enforce. Many girls get married at 13-14-15. For rural folk, education has usually stopped by this age - particularly for girls - as continuing on to lycée means having to leave the village and live in a larger town during the week. Most families can't afford to send all of their children on to lycée. And they are often concerned that girls who leave, will be unsupervised and may get pregnant young before they are married. Therefore the usual pattern in rural villages is for girls to be married around the age of 14 - often an arranged marriage.

Madagascar is trying to tackle this by educating families about the health risks to girls who become pregnant very early. Obstetric fistula is a huge problem in Madagascar, resulting from young girls who have not fully developed, trying to give birth in rural villages without any medical help. The baby is too large for the pelvis, and by the time people realise that she has an obstructed labour and walk to the nearest hospital - often many hours or even days away - the baby has died and the girl has significant injuries including incontinence and is often shunned by her family. Madagascar is also trying to promote the value of continued education. Together, hopefully changing attitudes towards child marriage and educating about the dangers of early childbirth, will reduce the number of girls getting married at 13 and 14 in Madagascar.
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Sena5
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(Original post by junior.doctor)
Madagascar thinks that this is a very simplistic view and not at all realistic. Just because something is illegal, doesn't stop people doing it. Whilst making child marriage illegal in each country would be a start, attitudes need to change and education must take place.

In Madagascar, most rural marriages are 'traditional', and are not legalised by the state - merely recognised by their local village. This means that anything legal is very hard to enforce. Many girls get married at 13-14-15. For rural folk, education has usually stopped by this age - particularly for girls - as continuing on to lycée means having to leave the village and live in a larger town during the week. Most families can't afford to send all of their children on to lycée. And they are often concerned that girls who leave, will be unsupervised and may get pregnant young before they are married. Therefore the usual pattern in rural villages is for girls to be married around the age of 14 - often an arranged marriage.

Madagascar is trying to tackle this by educating families about the health risks to girls who become pregnant very early. Obstetric fistula is a huge problem in Madagascar, resulting from young girls who have not fully developed, trying to give birth in rural villages without any medical help. The baby is too large for the pelvis, and by the time people realise that she has an obstructed labour and walk to the nearest hospital - often many hours or even days away - the baby has died and the girl has significant injuries including incontinence and is often shunned by her family. Madagascar is also trying to promote the value of continued education. Together, hopefully changing attitudes towards child marriage and educating about the dangers of early childbirth, will reduce the number of girls getting married at 13 and 14 in Madagascar.
Ok, I agree but the council should take the necessary steps or at least provide good and free education to the village because some people cannot also afford to pay the costs for education. They have to be given free or affordable education and also the morals and needs of life and about the child marriage.
They should be told the defects by child marriage.
Minor marriage as the girls won't be much matured physically. They may if they give birth at childhood give unhealthy babies and at such a minor age the children do not understand the true meaning of life but just get together with ho understanding as they are not enough matured.
Councils should be created to explain the defects of child birth and make them understand it is not the right way to marry.
But councils can and should go to each village and explain the drawbacks of child marriage.In this way they should be understanding the truth.
: 1) Empower girls with information, skills and support networks; 2) Provide economic support and incentives to girls and their families; 3) Educate and rally parents and community members; 4) Enhance girls' access to a high-quality education; and 5) Encourage supportive laws and policies. In order for the next generation of development programs to make ending child marriage a priority, policymakers must pay attention to these strategies while continuing to test innovative approaches and evaluation techniques.
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junior.doctor
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(Original post by kers123)
Ok, I agree but the council should take the necessary steps or at least provide good and free education to the village because some people cannot also afford to pay the costs for education. They have to be given free or affordable education and also the morals and needs of life and about the child marriage.
They should be told the defects by child marriage.
Minor marriage as the girls won't be much matured physically. They may if they give birth at childhood give unhealthy babies and at such a minor age the children do not understand the true meaning of life but just get together with ho understanding as they are not enough matured.
Councils should be created to explain the defects of child birth and make them understand it is not the right way to marry.
But councils can and should go to each village and explain the drawbacks of child marriage.In this way they should be understanding the truth.
: 1) Empower girls with information, skills and support networks; 2) Provide economic support and incentives to girls and their families; 3) Educate and rally parents and community members; 4) Enhance girls' access to a high-quality education; and 5) Encourage supportive laws and policies. In order for the next generation of development programs to make ending child marriage a priority, policymakers must pay attention to these strategies while continuing to test innovative approaches and evaluation techniques.
Madagascar agrees with many of these sentiments, however wishes point out the reality of a developing country where 75% of our population live in rural villages with few amenities. Whilst free education to baccalaureate level for all young people would be good, the reality is that there is not funding for this. Furthermore, Madagascar struggles to encourage enough primary school teachers to work in these rural areas - never mind considering secondary education. Even if hypothetically, lycée education were free, it is not feasible to have lycées in rural villages, and therefore young people would be obliged to travel to towns to study during the week - and many parents do not have the money to pay for board and lodging and travel for a child away from home - particularly when average families have 6-8 children. Likewise 'economic support to girls and families' - where would this money come from?

Empowering girls - how do you suggest this could be done? Particularly in a culture where men are seen as the dominant gender and girls are often married off in arranged marriages at a young age when they are not able to refuse, as they are not financially independent and have nowhere else to go / no alternative. Empowerment and economic support etc are nice buzz-words, but in this sort of rural, poor society, buzz words are not enough. Funding is not available at whim, and we value concrete, workable solutions rather than abstract ideas.

Madagascar feels that educating village and community leaders is part of the way forward - where cultural changes need to occur, these can only come from the people advising the people. Madagascar is committed to trying to change cultural perceptions concerning marriage at 13-15. However, in this culture and environment, we feel that marriage at 16+ is reasonable, and trying to fight against it would not be possible.
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McRite
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Botswana feels we are still in a good standing with our law. By allowing marriages from 16 with parental consent, we feel this is in line with tradition whilst protecting very young girls. We strictly enforce this law and we feel we don't need to modify it, because all marriages have to be registered, whether it is religious or customary law. Arranged marriages is rare thing to find and is usually found in some rural areas. Forced child marriages are scarce and seem to be isolated cases. If anything we feel we are making waves in curbing these human rights violations. So we feel we don't need to increase the age limit and anger some of the more conservative members of the public.

OOC: We need to keep the rural vote.
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Sena5
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(Original post by junior.doctor)
Madagascar agrees with many of these sentiments, however wishes point out the reality of a developing country where 75% of our population live in rural villages with few amenities. Whilst free education to baccalaureate level for all young people would be good, the reality is that there is not funding for this. Furthermore, Madagascar struggles to encourage enough primary school teachers to work in these rural areas - never mind considering secondary education. Even if hypothetically, lycée education were free, it is not feasible to have lycées in rural villages, and therefore young people would be obliged to travel to towns to study during the week - and many parents do not have the money to pay for board and lodging and travel for a child away from home - particularly when average families have 6-8 children. Likewise 'economic support to girls and families' - where would this money come from?

Empowering girls - how do you suggest this could be done? Particularly in a culture where men are seen as the dominant gender and girls are often married off in arranged marriages at a young age when they are not able to refuse, as they are not financially independent and have nowhere else to go / no alternative. Empowerment and economic support etc are nice buzz-words, but in this sort of rural, poor society, buzz words are not enough. Funding is not available at whim, and we value concrete, workable solutions rather than abstract ideas.

Madagascar feels that educating village and community leaders is part of the way forward - where cultural changes need to occur, these can only come from the people advising the people. Madagascar is committed to trying to change cultural perceptions concerning marriage at 13-15. However, in this culture and environment, we feel that marriage at 16+ is reasonable, and trying to fight against it would not be possible.
When having so much frustration it is good to limit the birth number of children.
And for transport, the councils should pay for the people who can't afford so much cost to travel. And yes, it's best for the children to be at least educated in towns.
Like as the government in foreign countries are providing free education, the government here too, can do it. They are taxing every single person. So, it is their obvious duty to serve the man kind. They have to provide such facilities in order to make the needy children learn and make them better people for the future and make them learn the right things.

As for the next paragraph, that is why they have to be educated. So, they can live and earn on their own. They should be taught the ways of living life. When they are economically low, they can be advised to earn by their own talents. Examples- Girls can sew clothes and sell, they can stitch clothes and earn from it, cook foods and sell and etc just as an entrepreneur. And if so, we may see their abilities and if they capable of any job, they can be put in a role and be checked if they do it better. There's nothing wrong by giving them an opportunity in life. If they are found to do their job passionately and correctly, then they could be offered such jobs. Governments should ignore the rural people. They have to bring an employment which they would gather and work for.

Madagascar feels that educating village and community leaders is part of the way forward- This is very nice point I agree, really. In my point of view, I know a family where their parents are less educated, but because they were able to send him of to UK and educate him, he was better in his activities and developed more.I don't say the rural people should pay to study, but according to their situation they should be freely educated by the government. The government has to pay and give free education to the country. They get tax from the people, so they have to bring and develop the whole country as it is the government's duty. It is the governments responsibility to do it as it a must and is compulsory!
The well-educated professional should visit these rural area and give advise like counseling and explain many people experience by the defects of marriage below age of 18 and they should be explained why age 18 is reasonable as the children will be mature enough. Marriages for 16+ should be fought for. And if the government is not able to do it own their own, they could ask help from a country willing to help Africa to improve it.
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Sena5
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(Original post by McRite)
Botswana feels we are still in a good standing with our law. By allowing marriages from 16 with parental consent, we feel this is in line with tradition whilst protecting very young girls. We strictly enforce this law and we feel we don't need to modify it, because all marriages have to be registered, whether it is religious or customary law. Arranged marriages is rare thing to find and is usually found in some rural areas. Forced child marriages are scarce and seem to be isolated cases. If anything we feel we are making waves in curbing these human rights violations. So we feel we don't need to increase the age limit and anger some of the more conservative members of the public.

OOC: We need to keep the rural vote.
Whilst parents are still living for the young girls, the young girls are protected!
Girls who are less in age are not matured. They are not fit for marriage which means they cannot register marriage at such ages.
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McRite
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(Original post by kers123)
Whilst parents are still living for the young girls, the young girls are protected!
Girls who are less in age are not matured. They are not fit for marriage which means they cannot register marriage at such ages.
Depends on your perspective what you call mature. Maturity doesn't necessarily mean being the age of 18
Especially in developing countries like ours. There are children that are naturally more mature because of their situation. And we have said before it's how you implement the law not necessarily the law itself. So it's good and well to say we are going to amend our law to and say we're going to protect the young girls but which country can actually have the figures to prove it. A law isn't going to change arranged marriages just delay them, or stop under age marriage. That comes through changing the mindset of the people something we have committed years in doing so. Also it's about modernizing your economy to allow employment of both sexes in secondary and tertiary institutions. This prevents a mentality reliant on subsidence farming and cattle rearing which has a knock on effect on children's education especially girls.

Changing our law isn't going to change of what we have accomplished which other African nations dream of. It should be about overall commitment to protect the rights of children.
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Sena5
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(Original post by McRite)
Depends on your perspective what you call mature. Maturity doesn't necessarily mean being the age of 18
Especially in developing countries like ours. There are children that are naturally more mature because of their situation. And we have said before it's how you implement the law not necessarily the law itself. So it's good and well to say we are going to amend our law to and say we're going to protect the young girls but which country can actually have the figures to prove it. A law isn't going to change arranged marriages just delay them, or stop under age marriage. That comes through changing the mindset of the people something we have committed years in doing so. Also it's about modernizing your economy to allow employment of both sexes in secondary and tertiary institutions. This prevents a mentality reliant on subsidence farming and cattle rearing which has a knock on effect on children's education especially girls.

Changing our law isn't going to change of what we have accomplished which other African nations dream of. It should be about overall commitment to protect the rights of children.
The government should handle the laws strictly. Just setting up the law and not working for it will not definitely work. It's the government's responsibility to make it strict by always visiting and checking the areas.The government also have to develop the surrounding which would automatically make the people's mind feel civilized and they would behave according to the surrounding development. Changing a law means the government should strictly follow it and work accordingly to ensure the society is following the law. That is governments responsibility!
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Greece understands that whilst cultural values may be different, we see no reason why a man and woman should marry before the age of 18, 16 at the earliest. Marriage is not a decision that should be entered into lightly, and both parties must consent. Anyone below 16 does not have the mindset to make such a big decision, and nobody should make it on their behalf
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