Tanzanian Activists Renew Call to Abolish Child Marriage
By Aristarick Joseph, founder of Youth For Change Tanzania
The International Day of the African Child began after thousands of students in South Africa’s Soweto Township were injured and killed while gathering at their schools in a student-organized apartheid protest.
This year’s theme for the International Day of the African Child is “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity.” The child friendly version is “Improving protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030.″
In Tanzania, the government, civil society, children and other stakeholders held a joint public rally at Hikumwa Village in the Chamwino District of the Dodoma Region. The day was preceded by a stakeholder’s workshop where, among other things, the end of child marriage was discussed.
Chamwino District Commissioner Hon Vumi signs declaration (All Photo Credits: Mr. Makassi –Plan International)
Senior Government Officials Commit to #levelthelaw
The rally was a good time to reflect on the 37% of Tanzanian girls who become child brides before the age of 18.
“We need to make sure every one of you gets equal opportunities to pursue their dreams. We need to support and protect you from harmful practices, teenage pregnancies …your right to education they should get their right to education,” Sylvia Temu, the ministry’s of education and vocational training director of higher education, said to hundreds of children gathered at the Hikumwa village school grounds.
Last July, the High Court of Tanzania ruled that the existing sections 13 and 17 of 1971 Law of Marriage Act (which allow girls as young as 14 to marry) are unconstitutional. The power to change that statistic and outlaw child marriage in Tanzania now lies in the hands of the Parliament.
The High Court’s decision to declare the law unconstitutional was encouraging, but members of Parliament need to change this law quick, once and for all.
We need Global Citizens to help us maintain the momentum toward ending child marriage in Tanzania, and to push Parliament to take action to repeal this harmful law.