Child Marriage In Niger Berfin Kara15318926 Section A”We must do away with child marriage. Girls who end up as brides at a tender age are coerced into having children while they are children themselves.” states Dr.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (2013). Any young girl or boy that is forced into marriage before the age of 18 is a victim of early child marriage (Loaiza & Wong, 2012). According to the United Nations, Niger has the highest percentage of early child marriage and 3 out of 4 girls in Niger will marry before they turn 18 (n.d). Fifteen million girls are married every year globally before they turn 18, which is 28 girls every minute (UN Women, 2013). Main factors driving families to marry their children off are inequality, poverty, set of cultural and traditional believes, insecurity or for money exchange for the family.
Ending child marriage relies on efforts of both the government and organizations helping the human rights (Loaiza & Wong, 2012). The African Union launched their first campaign to help decrease the child marriage more rapidly (2014). The African Unions initial aim was to run the campaign for two years (later extended until 2017), focusing on primarily fulfillment of girls basic human rights, making sure the society is well aware of the early marriage issue and that is it a destructive tradition, making sure women have the right access to birth registration, education, health services, embedding more legal policies to reduce child marriage and lastly implement the items 5 and 8 of the African Union Commission (African Union, 2013). Their expected results were to have a decreased child marriage by the end of 2017, more help from private sectors and stakeholders, and to have more girls registered to primary and secondary education by each state and country (Dlamini-Zuma, 2013, p.7). The first lady of Niger, Dr.
Malika Issoufu, also hosted an event which welcomed experts from more developed countries for them to explain child marriage in 2015. In order to help the African Union widen their campaign and speed up their aim, the organization “Girls Not Brides” also contributed by consulting the African Union members, trying to emphasize the urgency of the situation (Moudouthe, 2016). Girls Not Brides also set up a workshop in October 2016 in Zambia to raise awareness to this issue. Amnesty International also argues how young girls worldwide are more likely to experience gender-based violence and will get married earlier compared to young boys (2016). In 2017, Amnesty focused on child marriage in Burkina Faso (an African Country), and included it in their “Amnesty’s Write for Rights (W4R)” because the Niger has the highest rate for early child marriage globally.
Amnesty case on Burkina Faso also highlights on how married young girls had to bear as many children as their husbands want, and the decision is never up to the girl (The Devastating Impact Of Child Marriage On Girls Around the World, Amnesty, n.d.). Amnesty emphasized how girls have to deal with several children instead of living their childhood outside playing. A big act of success Amnesty have achieved was helping a girl who escaped from her 70 year-old husband who already had five wives. She walked 168 kilometers in three days to an Amnesty camp for young girls. African Union, Girls Not Brides and Amnesty International believe that together are already achieving high-level developments to end child marriage.
Section BNiger is a country long suffering from food shortage and poverty rate with 44.1% it makes Niger the 187th poorest country out of 188 (Worldbank, 2017). With a 3.9% growth rate, Niger is on the list of fastest-growing countries (Worldbank, 2017). Besides economic facts, Niger is also number one country for the highest child marriage rate, with 15 for the legal marriage age and almost 89% of young females are married off before the age 18 (Machonesa, 2017).
These numbers are higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. The exhaustion of food stock and poverty drives families to marry their young children off to the wealthier man for the exchange of cattle and cash to feed the rest of the family (Girls Not Brides, n.d). Poverty is the main reason for many families who choose to give their daughters away to early marriage and traditionally choosing to keep their sons home for economic support (Smaak & Varia, 2015). Child marriage means one less person to feed under one roof for the males of the family. Girls are perceived as economically dependent on the family compared to boys, therefore the father of the family believes that marriage will secure the girl’s economic income and stability (Varia, 2015). Niger being dominant in both Islam and Christianity and also having low rates of education nation wise pushes the country into beliefs of inequality between genders, believing in women being inferior to men (Girls Not Brides, n.
d). The inequality in the nation brings higher desire to have control over a girl in an adolescent phase, choosing when she gets married, what she wears or her behavior. According to Human Rights Watch, traditional rules for dowry payments are what perpetuates child marriage. In an Apostolic Church, a midwife stated to Human Rights Watch that “Our church doctrine is that girls must marry when they are between 12 and 16 years old to make sure they do not sin by having sexual relations outside marriage” (2015). As soon as a girl reaches puberty any man in the church can claim her for a wife.
” Due to heavy religious beliefs, families also support the practice of polygamy and virginity check. Early marriage traditions also claim to avoid the risk of a young females virginity being lost to another male before marriage, or to sexual harassment (Varia, 2015). According to traditions of Niger, a girls safety is entitled to her family but marriage will transfer the responsibility to the husband, reducing the burden on the girls family (Girls Not Brides, n.d). By old practices of tradition, boys are more worth to send to school and receive education, since girls are expected to work home instead either for her husbands family or at her own house (Varia, 2015). As the Human Rights Watch states, the journey to school for a girl increases her risk of being sexually harassed according to the males of the families, so it is not worth the time to send girls to school (2015). Section CUnited Nations is a pioneer in the defending of the human rights, and defines child marriage as a human rights abuse, and occurs when one or both of the spouses are below the age of 18 (UNFPA, n.
d). According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, child marriage is a violation of Article 16(2), which states “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses” (1948). Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) states that “women should have the same right as men to freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent”, and that the “betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect” (UNPFA & UN Women, 2010). UNICEF has statistics stating that from 2002 to 2011, around 400 million women were forced into marriage before they turned 18. Marriage is a choice of freedom, in the right age with whomever a person wants, yet child marriage continues to persist, putting young girls lives in mortal danger, educational life and social life to an end (Loaiza & Wong, 2012).Young girls with the age as young as seven are forced into illegal marriages with men much older than their age (McElroy, 2012). They become victims of marital rape and end up pregnant without knowing what pregnancy is. Girls who get pregnant with immature bodies often die due to complications during pregnancy or during labor.
Pregnancy during adolescence is the second biggest cause of death for girls between 15 and 19 (UNFPA, 2015). They also suffer from a great risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV (Varia, 2015). Early marriage traps their life in the constant power of male companions, often times continuous domestic violence (Flake, 2005, p.
353-373). Children married to man much older to their age are forced to justify with the idea of man beating his wife (UNICEF, 2005). Due to their feeling of inferiority to their husbands, often times young girls are scared to talk to their husbands about the use of contraception, leaving them no other choice but to bear as many children as their husbands want (Early Marriage, 2005). Moreover, children born to young girls also possess high chances of short survival after birth due to poor health conditions and low weight. Adolescent girls have minimal or almost no access to health services, leaving their and their newborn’s health in lasting threat (Ganchimeg, 2014). The United Nations has held many assemblies on child marriages, mainly focusing on African and South Eastern countries, and as a part of Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations advanced their efforts to end child marriage by 2030 (Varia, 2015). If not worked hard enough by all countries, in 2050 half of the child brides in the world will be African (UNICEF, 2015). The number will double from 125 million to 310 million due to rapid population growth.
“This is critical now because if current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly 1 billion by 2030 – 1 billion childhoods lost, 1 billion futures blighted.” (Lake, 2015) Section DNo country or organization can justify with child marriage, it is abuse, rape and a clear violation of basic human rights of children (Ababa & African Union, 2013). Niger is a country open to economic instability due to country’s rapid population growth (3.9%) and natural disasters. The country is constantly trapped in poverty, resulting in families with extreme poverty to marry their young girls off in exchange for cash and cattle, especially in rural areas. It can offer no jobs for its nation. The government of Niger constantly wants to end child marriage yet also keeps on reminding the world that Niger is a country true to its traditions (African Union, 2013). Niger does not acquire the financial power to finish child marriage on its own and need help from the UN and the international community.
By all means, the General Assembly of the United Nations would like to present and help with the following resolutions;- The initial step in ending child marriage has to start with setting the legal marriage age from 15 to 18,- Promoting gender equality in Niger will help strengthen the policy on sending young girls and boys to receive their mandatory education. If children go to school, they will have access to paid works decision making positions as individuals. By working, they can help their families without having their fathers marry them off to older men. – Helping the government of Niger with eliminating extreme poverty which is one of the main causes of child marriages. A suggestion would be industrializing the oil mining sectors which have strong potentials. Building new mines and factories will provide jobs for both men and women, contributing to the economy. – For girls who are already married, they should have full access to health services for education on pregnancy and the use of contraception. Health services will help the reduce of adolescence fatality during pregnancy and also reduce child mortality (Girls Not Brides n.
d).- Criminalization of child marriage will discourage the males of families. – Educating men on the use of contraception and consent of their children will change their perspective on early child marriage.
– Providing help and support for girls who are already married and to girls who choose to get a divorce or leave her husband. Child marriage is a harmful practice and needs to be ended as quickly as possible without risking any more lives of young girls and boys (UNICEF, 2015). The act of early marriage and its results are both equally devastating for the sake of perceiving young girls as human beings and entitling them to their basic human rights is the most urgent case Niger should focus on. Rapidly rising population through child marriage will be a burden for the country since Niger is already facing problems with employment of the Niger youth.Ending child marriage requires legal work from the country.
Traditional customs should not be an excuse for destroying young girls lives. Education and gender equality should be taught to the citizens, informing them of alternative options to earn money rather than exchanging their girls for cattle and cash. Recent research from International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank, if Niger can stop child marriage, the country can save around 25 billion dollars by 2030. ResourcesAfrican Union. (2013). CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD MARRIAGE IN AFRICA: CALL TO ACTION.
AU. (n.d.). The Republic of Niger Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from https://au.
int/en/newsevents/27021/republic-niger-launches-au-campaign-end-child-marri age-africa Child Marriage . (n.d.
). Retrieved from https://modelunsummer.wikispaces.com/file/view/Child%20Marriage%20Mini%20Sim.p df/239546023/Child%20Marriage%20Mini%20Sim.pdf General Assembly . (2010, April 1).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.claiminghumanrights.org/udhr_article_16.html#at17 Gilson, D. (2018). Forced at 15. Girls Not Brides.
(2015, November 21). AFRICAN UNION EXTENDS CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD MARRIAGE UNTIL 2017. Retrieved from https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/african-union-extends-campaign-to-end-child-marriage-un til-2017/ ICRW.
(2006). Child Marriage and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Kollodge, R. (2017). Reproductive health and rights in an age of inequality. UNFPA The State of World Population 2017.
Loaiza, E., & Wong, S. (2012). Marrying too young. MACHONESA, A.
(n.d.). PRESIDENT OF NIGER COMMITS TO ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
McElroy, D. (2012). Children as young as seven sold as child brides in Niger. MOUDOUTHE, F. K. (n.d.
). THE AFRICAN UNION CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD MARRIAGE: WHAT NEXT? GIRLS NOT BRIDES MEMBERS FROM ACROSS AFRICA SPEAK AS ONE. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/african-union-campaign-end-child-marriage-next-girls-not -brides-members-across-africa-speak-one/ Sylla, F.
, Diabate, A. S., & Seydou, M.
(2017). AFRICAN ECONOMIC OUTLOOK. THE DEVASTATING IMPACT OF CHILD MARRIAGE ON GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.
amnestyusa.org/the-devastating-impact-of-child-marriage-on-girls-around-th e-world/ UN. (n.d.). New UN initiative aims to protect millions of girls from child marriage. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
UN Women. (n.d.
). Child Marriages: 39,000 Every Day – More than 140 million girls will marry between 2011 and 2020. Retrieved March 7, 2013. UNICEF. (n.
d.). About Child Marriage. Retrieved from https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/ Varia, N. (2015). Ending Child Marriage Meeting the Global Development Goals’ Promise to Girls.
WHO. (2018). Adolescent pregnancy.
WODON, Q., TAVARES, P., FIALA, O., NESTOUR, A. L., & WISE, L. (2017). CHILD MARRIAGE LAWS AND THEIR LIMITATIONS.
ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE: . World Bank. (2017). The World Bank In Niger. World YWCA. (2016). End Child Marriage and Support Married Girls.