People living in the poorest parts of the world are 300% more likely to get married before they become an adult than people living in other parts of the world. This is, without question, incredibly serious.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are eight of the 10 countries with the highest rates of this type of premature union with the most notable cases in the Sahel, an area described as a poverty belt, the cause of these marriages.
According to a report by the non-governmental organisation Ayuda en Acción, these st
ates are Niger with 76% of cases, the Central African Republic (68), Chad (68), Mali (55), Burkina Faso (52), Guinea (52), South Sudan (52) and Mozambique (48).
In addition to these facts, there are others relating to what happens between rural and urban areas where the chances double as the need to share the poverty and food increases and where other atavistic factors operate in respect of the treatment of girls who lose the most in these cases.
Currently,125 million girls live in Africa and are forced to get married before they turn 18 years old.
The concerning forecast is that in 2050 this number will be 310 million minors, significantly more than double current official records. The continent is undergoing a process of adaptation to modernity, but issues such as forced child marriage hinder any kind of step towards better conditions in respect of gender and mainly, the protection of children, the only thing which can guarantee the future of the continent.
A 2018 review on poverty and child marriage highlights that four in every 10 girls in Africa will get married before they reach 18 years old, and six of the 10 countries with the highest levels of child marriages are African.
In the six most affected states, the percentage of this type of union ranges from 45% and 80%.
Mozambique is saying “No”
The Mozambique Parliament recently passed a legal instrument against premature marriage, a piece of legislation that establishes punishments of between two and 16 years imprisonment for those who breach the age restrictions, rape and/or deliberately infect their victims with sexually transmitted diseases.
The law also introduces preventative measures and support mechanisms with the aim of protecting married minors who, in many cases, abandon their studies and become individuals that society, in an environment where there is a shortage of development opportunities, ‘marginalises’, synonymous with ‘excludes’ at a time of globalisation.
In addition to biological and physical harm which child marriage can lead to, there is a problem which does not only affect countries in the sub-Saharan area. Marrying at a young age, in many cases, involves a deprivation of individual freedom and a confinement to the home.
The couple’s spiritual dissatisfaction provides a basis for the use of violence against girls (under 16 years old) in their married lives, this is reported by agencies such as UNICEF in its fight for human rights and specifically for the rights of children.
Child marriage is damaging because children of adolescents are at a higher risk of being stillborn or of early neonatal death, as well as suffering from underweight because their mothers still haven’t fully physically developed to procreate.
At the same time, these young mothers don’t have the necessary psychological faculties to care for their babies.
The levels of infant and maternal mortality in Africa are surprisingly high for the reasons set out above, as well as other medical and social conditions.
Among those are the cultural traditions of their own communities and the stigma associated with reproductive health.
According to calculations, in Africa 1.7 million child marriages take place every year. A reality which is difficult to face.
At a global level, a number which has attracted a lot of attention is that every seven seconds a girl under the age 15 years is forced into marriage. This is interlinked with the fact that every 12 months close to 15 million minors under the age of 18 are forced to marry against their will. (PL). Part 2 next week
*The author is a journalist for Africa and the Middle East /PL
(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay