The Evils of Child Marriage
In many countries Child Marriage is illegal yet it still continues, especially in developing countries where girls are seen as a liability. Child marriage, apart from it's inherent aspect of paedophilia, holds great risks for these girls. The young Maasai girl (left) has just been sold into marriage to a 75 year old man for 16 goats. She is about 11 years old, in form I. She will be more vulnerable to violence and abuse, and, should she fall pregnant, has 60% more chance of dying in childbirth than a girl over 16. If her husband has HIV/AIDS, then she has a high chance of infection too.
Fortunately, thanks to her mother, and our project partner, Sophia Mwakagenda, founder of the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society and parliamentarian, this is one girl who will avoid this fate.
Last week, the child's mother called Sophia for help. When Sophia arrived at the village, another mother approached Sophia asking for help for her daughter, who had been sold for 14 cows. This girl is in Form II. The reason in both cases? Their fathers didn't want to spend money on their school fees. The police were called in, and all parties agreed that it was best if Sophia took the girls to a refuge, as their fathers had absconded. Now the girls are safe and will have an education that will empower them to be self-sufficient and role models for other Masai girls.
We heartily support the ending of child marriage and we congratulate Sophia on her advocacy for these young girls.
Hopefully, our joint project with the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society - Sasa Naweza (Now I Can) will facilitate change in social attitudes.
This project has twin goals: to educate communities about the benefits of girls' education and empower girls by teaching them about their legal rights, illegality of child marriage, the benefits of education, and reproductive health, especially, how to protect themselves from teenage pregnancy and HIV. For every year a girl stays in secondary school, her risk of AIDS is reduced by 12%.
With your help, we can help more girls avoid child marriage, HIV, and gain the education that will permit them to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
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