NGO outcry over rampant child marriages
11 August 2014, 18:11
Nairobi - Child marriages continue robbing girls their right to education and often has devastating consequences for their health and wellbeing, a global chldren’s charity warned.
Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi as part of a series of activities to raise awareness on the plight of girls, Roland Angerer, Regional Director for Plan International in Eastern and Southern Africa, said millions of underage girls would be married in the decade leading up to 2020.
“Since in many cultural contexts early marriage of girls is accepted as a norm, girls may appear to give consent as a duty or in order to respect and obey the wishes of their families. Across the world girls are missing from classrooms – forced out by poverty, forced marriage and discrimination. (It is) unjust and a shocking waste of potential, talent and lives,” Angerer said.
“Education plays an essential role in delaying girls age of marriage. Girls with no education are indeed three times likely to get married by 18 as those with a secondary or higher education. It is essential to ensure all girls have the right to quality, safe and non-discriminatory education, at all levels,” Angerer added.
According to the official, every one minute, 19 girls under 18 years are forced to marry.
“This means every day 27 000 girls under the age of 18years are forcefully married off; every year 10 million girls under the age of 18 years are forced into marriage.”
Africa is said to have the highest rate of girls out of school and girls who have not completed primary education due several impeding factors including child marriage.
Fifty-two per cent of out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where four out of five girls receive no formal education.
According to Plan International, Kenya’s prevalence of child marriages stands at 34 percent for female and 1.4percent for males.
This is despite the Marriage Bill outlawing marriage below the age of 18.
Most parents in rural Kenya marry off their girl children as young as 14 to escape to pangs of poverty and out of the fear and stigma associated with teen pregnancies and children born out of wedlock, the organization stated.