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‘Under-age marriage poses risk’

08 March 2013

by a staff reporter


Changing: women and the elders from the Abdille Gab village, at the Dadaab camp, Kenya tell how their dream of making education available to their children is made possible by the twice-weekly delivery of clean drinking water by World Vision

Changing: women and the elders from the Abdille Gab village, at the Dadaab camp, Kenya tell how their dream of making education available to their c...

UNDER-AGE girls are married off by their parents in an attempt to protect them and ensure they are looked after, says new research, published to mark today's International Women's Day.

The charity World Vision said that, in many countries facing a humanitarian crisis, parents married off girls early as a way of looking after them, and reducing the food demands placed on parents.

The senior child-rights adviser for World Vision UK, Erica Hall, said: "We've found that early marriage is often perceived by families as a protective measure and is used by communities as a way to respond to crisis. However, girls who marry young are more at risk of violence, malnutrition, and devastating complications in childbirth. In seeking to protect their children, parents can end up exposing them to situations they were aiming to protect them from."

The report, Untying the Knot, is published today at the United Nations in New York, where the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) has been meeting.

The UNCSW is focusing this year on ending violence against women. The Church of England has sent a representative, Mandy Marshall, to argue that faith groups play a vital part in meeting this goal.

Ms Marshall, co-founder of Restored, an international Christian alliance to end violence against women, said: "It is encouraging to see a greater involvement of Christian faith groups in the side events this year. This is more than I have seen in previous years."

A three-day Indaba process, organised by Anglican Women's Empowerment, was held in New York over the first weekend of the conference, for women from Africa and North America to discuss violence and learn from each other.

Lucie Nzarambal, vice-chairwoman of the Mothers' Union in Rwanda, and a district councillor representing women, said: "This is the first time I've heard about 'safe spaces' where a woman can come and talk and break silence about the violence [she has experienced]. That's something I will take back to my country; as is the idea of gathering two or three women together in small groups, giving them the opportunity to break the silence [about abuse]. Women are not able to talk about it in large gatherings."

Mandy Marshall's blog can be read here.

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