A Woman'S Right to Decide If, Whom, and When to Marry in ...

A Woman'S Right to Decide If, Whom, and When to Marry in ...

CHILD MARRIAGE Gladys Mbuyah of FIDA Cameroon Prepared by Presentation overview Introduction

Top twenty countries Prevalence Reasons why child marriage is practiced Discriminatory marriage age Effects of child marriage Case studies International conventions on marriage Recommendations INTRODUCTION Child marriage simply put is, when a child gets married. The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as any one below the age of 18. and proscribe marriage before that age, Yet most of our states pay only lip service to the conventions they have ratified by permitting children below the age of 18 to get married. studies show that: About 40 million girls aged between 15-19 are currently married or are in union

15 million girls are married as children(under age 18) each year with 4 million of them married under the age 15. 1 in 3 girls In the developing world are said to be married before 18. Over 700 million women alive today were married as children. Child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. It is a human rights violation and a violation of the provisions of many international and regional conventions 20 Countries with the Highest Rates of Child Marriage



marriage tends to be more prevalent in rural areas. For example, in Indonesia, 25 percent of rural girls are married before age 18, compared to 10 percent in urban areas. And in Peru, 35 percent of rural girls are married, compared to 14 percent of urban girls. The highest rates of child marriage are found in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In Mali, 39 percent of girls aged 15-19 are married. In South Sudan, 40 percent are married. In Bangladesh, 44 percent. In Central African Republic, 55 percent. And in Niger, 60 percent. In these countries, disparities are also great. In Niger, for Reasons why betrothals and child marriage is practiced

Lack of legal reform Traditional stereotypes Poverty/medium of exchange Boy child preference Preservation of virginity Illiteracy/Ignorance Vulnerable social and economic status of women Insecurities Humanitarian crises DISCRIMINATORY MARRIAGE AGE Afghanistan: 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

Cameroon: 15 for girls and 18 years for boys. Chad: 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys Niger: 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys Senegal: 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys Sudan: 13 years for girls and 15 years for boys Tanzania: 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys Zimbabwe: 16 for girls and 18 years for boys Mali: 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys DRC: 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys

Burkina Faso: 17 years for girls and 20 Guinea: 16years for both sexes Customary Laws Effects of child marriage Miss out on childhood Poor health/HIV/AIDS Maternal/infant mortality Can not realize other human rights Lack of education/social imbalance No job/unskilled and abusive jobs Live in poverty Forced to live in unsafe environment Inability to participate in the political life of ones country/leadership positions

Inability to acquire and own property End of Childhood Index Rankings 1. Norway-----------------------few 36. USA----------------------------few 54. Bahamas ----------------------some 103. South Africa-------------------some 159. Cameroon --------------------most CASE STUDY: AFGHANISTAN Majerah, was forced into early marriage at age 14. I was studying and working hard with the hope to become a doctor, she said. I wanted to be able to help other women. Even though my family was poor, I always focused

on my studies, disregarding the difficulties of my life. I never had a chance to enjoy my childhood. I was forced into an adult life way too early. She had to leave school when she got married. She was in 8th grade and earned the highest scores in her class. When my father decided to marry me off, I was heartbroken. Nobody asked or cared. Majerahs husband is 10 years older. She lives with him and a large number of his family members in a small house. Her in-laws treat her like a slave, making her do all the housework. The family disrespects her because she has not been able to have a child. She has been hit by her husband several times. He tells her if she is unable to have a baby within the next couple of months, he will remarry. All my dreams have been shattered forever, said Majerah. I feel I am not alive anymore. One cannot live without hopes and CASE STUDY: SOMALIA Amal

grew up in a rural village and never attended school. When she reached 13, her father told her he had accepted a dowry from a man who wanted to marry her. I tried to refuse, but I was forced to accept it, said Amal. I had no choice. Preparations began for the wedding. Amal was sent to the home of the man, who was more than 30 years older. After two days of wedding celebrations she managed to escape to the city and is working to rebuild her life. (Culled from girls not brides website) International Human Rights instruments on marriage Universal

declaration of human rights International covenant on civil and political rights International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights CEDAW and Optional protocol International Convention on Racial Discrimination Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of Marriage Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC) Protocol to African Charter on the Rights of women African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child Inter-American Convention on Human Rights Recommendations to governments Enforce

CEDAW and all ratified conventions Enact and enforce laws that guarantee equality between men and women Abolish all harmful and discriminatory practices. Traditions are made by people and people can unmake them. Per Graa Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela. Organize gender sensitive training for Judges, magistrates, prosecutors, court staff, law enforcement officers, chiefs, community leaders and other customary law enforcement officials Increase support for civil society organizations Encourage and support the establishment of legal aid clinics and legal resource centers throughout the country Repeal discriminatory laws Codify Customary laws Increase number of women in decision making positions Make judiciary independent.

Recommendations to civil societies Advocate for Governments to implement CEDAW fully Advocate for law and policy reforms Organize gender-sensitive education for chiefs/community leaders Establish legal aid clinics and legal resource centers in the country. Advocate for customary laws to be codified and for an end to harmful cultural practices Work to increase the number of women in decision making positions

and Create strong grass root womens rights civil society Educate girls on their rights to decide if, when and who to marry. Monitor governments respect for human rights and write shadow reports Organize more awareness raising campaigns and capacity building trainings for women Recommendations to the international community Hold governments accountable for not implementing conventions Strengthen monitoring mechanisms Fund training programs

Express and clearly propose ways in which recalcitrant states should be compelled to abide by their obligations under conventions. What you and I can do THANK YOU.

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