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“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

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons
Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?