Mozambique: Strategy Against Child Marriages Launched

Mozambique is among the seven African countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, and among the ten countries most affected by this phenomenon in the world, according to the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Cidalia Chauque.

She was speaking on Monday in Maputo at the launch of the National Strategy for the Fight against Child Marriages, which brings together members of the government and its national and international partners.

Citing data from the most recent edition of the Demographic and Health Survey, published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), she said that 14 per cent of Mozambican women aged between 20 and 24 had married before the age of 15, and 48 per cent before they were 18 years old.

Child marriages, said Chauque, are a violation of children’s rights, and have serious consequences for the development of children and of society as a whole. Hence the government has been taking actions to prevent and fight against this phenomenon.

These measures include the adoption of legislation to protect children, the ratification of regional and international conventions on the rights of children and of women, and joining the campaign of the African Union to prevent child marriages.

The government, Chauque added, is trying to raise the awareness of families, religious and traditional leaders, society at large and children themselves to the need to prevent child marriages.

She said that the government is also implementing sexual and reproductive health programmes, and is promoting girls’ education, including the allocation of scholarships.

On legal reform, she stressed the important of the Family Law, which sets 18 as the minimum age for marriage. The statistics, however, indicate that in much of the country this provision of the law is unknown or is simply disregarded.

Chauque told the meeting that she hopes for strengthened coordination among all stakeholders in the fight to rid Mozambique of child marriages. She hoped that their actions will contribute to a change in attitudes, in order to protect children’s rights.

Source: All Africa