Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Child marriage still rife in Mozambique

Albino Francisco, a National Coalition to End Child Marriage in Mozambique representative told delegates at a psychosocial forum on Thursday, “… 56 323 of [them] were married before they reached 15 years of age.”

He was speaking at the three-day long forum held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, hosted by the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (Repssi). The network hosts the forum bi-annually to promote awareness among governments, civil society, academia and media about the need for psychosocial support for children.

Francisco said these statistics are from an analysis of the latest health surveys (in 2011), census projections and governmental administrative data. The statistics translate to 48.2% of the women in this age group getting married before they turned 18 and 14.3% of them getting married before they turned 15. “In Mozambique, child marriage is illegal before the age of 18, although the law allows for exceptions up to 16 years of age where there is consent from the child’s parents,” he said.

Teen pregnancy was a natural association of child marriage and the statistics for this were equally shocking. “In total, more than 439.453 women aged 20-24 had their first child before their 18th birthday, 85.257 of which concerned mothers who were aged less than 15 at the birth of their first child,” he said.

He said “religious and regional” factors contributed to the ongoing practice and there was a much higher rate of child marriage in central and northern regions than in southern regions. Interestingly, he said, “girls living in female-headed households have a significantly lower probability of getting married before 18 than girls living in male-headed households”.  “Similarly, the probability of entering into child marriage decreases unambiguously with the age of the head of household.”

Some of the effects of child marriage were a “significantly lower likelihood of finishing primary school and starting secondary school” and “the children of adolescent mothers are significantly more malnourished than children of mothers in other age groups at the national level”.

Neighbouring country, Tanzania, has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

Co-ordinator for the Agape Aids control programme, Deozawadi Marandu, told delegates that on average, “almost two out of five girls will be married before their 18th birthday”. The programme was established in 2006 and operates in the country’s Shinyanga region and its founders entered an agreement with the Firelight Foundation this year to implement a Stop Child Marriages and Early Pregnancies Project.

He said the causes of child marriages in the region include “the prevalence of harmful norms that make the community to view girls as source of income”. 

In some communities “child marriage is preferred as it is believed that when a girl conceives while at home, she will remove the honor of the family and reduces bride wealth,” he said. The programme aimed to educate and sensitise communities about child rights and the harmful effects of child marriages through “public video sessions; community and victims change agent groups, and school clubs”. 

They attempted family reconciliation and re-unification and gave victims legal representation. They also advocated for changing the Tanzanian Marriage Act of 1971 “which says children are allowed to be married at 14”, he said.

As a result of their efforts, more than 750 vulnerable girls have been rescued from child marriages and reintegrated into formal education, he said. Others have been supported in accessing vocational studies to pursue jobs such as tailoring, welding and electrical installation. Sixty girls have received business training and been given start up grants to initiate small businesses.”

“To effectively address the problem of child marriages, there is a need to have a holistic approach that looks at policy changes, addresses community attitudes, strengthens households economically and also empowers girls,” he said. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Victoria John
Victoria studied journalism, specialising in photojournalism, at Rhodes University from 2004 to 2007. After traveling around the US and a brief stint in the UK she did a year's internship at The Independent on Saturday in Durban. She then worked as a reporter for the South African Press Association for a year before joining the Mail & Guardian as an education reporter in August 2011.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Seven years’ radio silence for taxpayer-funded Rhythm FM

Almost R50-million of taxpayers’ money has been invested but the station is yet to broadcast a single show

Q&A Sessions: Zanele Mbuyisa — For the love of people-centred...

She’s worked on one of the biggest class-action cases in South Africa and she’s taken on Uber: Zanele Mbuyisa speaks to Athandiwe Saba about advocating for the underrepresented, getting ‘old’ and transformation in the law fraternity

More top stories

ANC confirms it will oppose Magashule’s court application

The ruling party has briefed senior counsel Wim Trengove to head the team that will contest Magashule’s bid to fight his suspension and oust Ramaphosa instead

Magashule defies suspension order and KZN leaders’ advice that he...

A strategy by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC to control the narrative coming out of former president Zuma’s court appearance for arms deal corruption and fraud was thwarted

Landmark Deadly Air case: 10 000 deaths annually can be...

There is no legal mechanism in place to implement and enforce measures to prevent toxic air pollution in the Highveld

No masks. No Covid. But problems do abound

With no cases of Covid-19, a Zimbabwe informal settlement’s residents are more concerned about making ends meet – and their imminent eviction
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×