Sunday June 16, 2019
Home World “Changing the...

“Changing the law is not the ultimate end to child marriage” in Tanzania, says Activist

If Tanzania capitalized on the momentum of the ruling, in 20 to 30 years it should be possible to reduce the number of girls being married off early

0
//
FILE - A woman protests against underage marriages in Lagos, Nigeria, July 20, 2013. The African Union is to convene a summit in Zambia this week with a view to ending child marriage. VOA

London, November 4, 2016: An activist whose petition earlier this year triggered a Tanzanian high court ruling against child marriage said social transformation was needed to end the longstanding custom many families use as a “survival system.”

“Changing the law is not the ultimate end to child marriage,” said Rebeca Gyumi, founder of the Msichana Initiative, a Tanzanian charity promoting girls’ rights. “Changing mindsets and trying to trigger the shift of customs and traditions is the next thing we are planning to do,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

The High Court of Tanzania ruled in July that two sections of the 1971 Marriage Act, which allow girls to marry at 15 with parental consent and at 14 with the permission of a court, were unconstitutional.

The landmark ruling, effectively raising the legal age of marriage for girls to 18, was made in response to a petition by Gyumi who argued that the act violated girls’ rights to equality, dignity and access to education, as granted by the constitution.

Attitudes must change

The real challenge is to shift attitudes in communities where parents marry off their daughters so their sons can to go to school or to ease the economic burden on their families, Gyumi said.

“The issue is deep-rooted in a male-dominated, patriarchal system where a girl child is not really treated as an equal person,” she said in an interview.

She described child marriage as “a sort of a survival system” in a society where poverty is entrenched. “Sometimes parents see marrying their kids as the only solution to the issues they have,” she added.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Tanzania has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally, with nearly 2 in 5 girls getting married before their 18th birthday, according to campaign group Girls Not Brides. It says the practice is particularly prevalent in rural areas where girls as young as 11 are married.

Child marriage deprives girls of education and opportunities, and puts them at risk of serious injury or death if they have children before their bodies are ready. They are also more vulnerable to domestic and sexual violence.

Gyumi said if Tanzania capitalized on the momentum of the ruling, in 20 to 30 years it should be possible to reduce the number of girls being married off early.

Men must be involved

“We have to change the story from Tanzania being among the countries with the highest percentage of child marriages to being the country that really tries to solve the issue by changing the law and educating the community,” she said.

Gyumi said men’s involvement was essential for the campaign against child marriage to be successful.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“Sometimes it’s not just about what you’re saying but who is saying it. Women alone can’t win this war.” Each year more than 15 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18, Girls Not Brides says.

In June, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for an end to child, early and forced marriage, and recognizing child marriage as a violation of human rights.

Ending child marriage by 2030 is one of the targets contained in the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at a U.N. summit last year. (VOA)

Next Story

Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded "the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country"

0
Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, women took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace, child marriage ‘honour killings, wage inequalities and limited political representation.

Organisers hope that the “aurat march” (women’s march) and “aurat azadi march” (women’s liberation march) will draw attention to the struggle for reproductive, economic, and social justice across in Pakistan, reports the Guardian.

The first “Aurat March” was held last year in Karachi; this time, the rally has been extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad.

The aim is to reach ordinary women in factories, homes and offices, says Nighat Dad, an “aurat march” organiser in Lahore.

“We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”

Speakers at the Lahore march ranged from a woman fighting to reform marriage laws to the women who worked on the landmark Punjab Domestic Workers’ Act — a legislation that outlaws child labour in homes and provides maternity benefits to workers.

Another activist, Leena Ghani, noted that Pakistani women have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s.

Krishna Kumari works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb. 12, 2018. VOA

While Pakistan has made major strides towards gender equality, poorer, marginalised women and transgender citizens continue to struggle, Ghani added.

Designer Shehzil Malik created a series of striking posters for the “aurat march” that counter typical representations of Pakistani women as docile and subservient.

Women are also protesting against discriminatory policies in universities, where male and female students are afforded different levels of freedom, the Guardian said.

A Pakistani university recently caused a furore on social media by banning women from wearing skinny jeans and sleeveless shirts.

Also Read- Originality is a Dichotomous Terminology, Says Megastar Amitabh Bachchan

In his message on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development, Dawn news reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”. (IANS)