The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) on Tuesday called on African Union member countries to strongly address child marriage which is still rampant across the continent.
The African court’s deputy registrar Nouhou Diallo made the call here when speaking at the occasion to commemorate the African Child Day which is commemorated annually on June 16 by the AU member states.
This year’s event is themed “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating Our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa.”
The occasion is firstly a commemoration to recall the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid-inspired education resulted in the public killing of these unarmed young protesters by police officials.
“This is a special moment to reflect and review the situation of the early child marriages on our continent, challenges and what’ s the way forward,” Diallo said.
“Early child marriages, especially for our girls, deprive them of a decent and rightful living,” he said.
The official said that despite having better laws and policies that prohibits child marriages in most countries, the practice is still out of control.
“The problem is more serious in rural areas, whereby most parents marry off their girl children as young as 14 to escape to pangs of poverty and out of the fear and stigma associated with teen pregnancies and children born out of wedlock,” he said.
According to Diallo, Africa has the second highest rate of child marriage in the world after South Asia.
Reports show that 39 percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthdays.
“That’s more than one in three girls,” the official said. “Harmful community practices, wrong cultural beliefs and economic reasons for early child marriages should be condemned and shunned at every available opportunity.”
“As we commemorate this year’s African Child Day, let us remember that we jointly have a duty to protect, respect, promote and fulfill the rights of children,” he said.
AfCHPR is a regional court created to make judgments on African Union’s compliance with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. It came into being on January 25, 2004. Enditem