- Forced child marriages prevalent in Ngamiland
- Authorities fail to enforce the law as they are kept under wraps
- WAR launches audio book on child marriages
- Books enlightens girl child on this manipulative practice
In a disturbing revelation, marriages of young girls less than 18 years old are reported to be prevalent in Ngamiland, yet very difficult to deal with because parents and society keep them under wraps to evade the law.
The shocking trend which is reportedly influenced by strong cultural beliefs in the region is said to be popular in remote and far flung areas where the practice is mostly covered up. Due to the secrecy and deeply rooted cultural traditions of these marriages the practises usually happen unreported. In general Ngamiland has very low to zero official child marriage statistics while behind closed doors there are reportedly numerous incidents of such cases.
It has also been established that authorities fail to effectively deal with the cases and addressing the marriages as parents usually do not cooperate.
These revelations have been made by Bobedi Samoxhose from Women against Rape during an audio book launch of a book titled “the reflections on child, early and forced marriages,” a fiction-based writing authored by 20 students from various secondary schools around Maun which was published in 2016 by WAR.
Samoxhose noted that the main objective of the audio book is to enlighten people, especially women and girls, to recognize manipulative traditions that oppress them and to also instil mind shift through education and school systems which empowers both the girl and boy child. She noted that early child marriages bring with them health complications like contraction of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as teenage pregnancies due to sexual exploitation.
Lack of awareness around the issue is said to remain an obstacle to abolish child marriages in many communities.
“As the country is ravaged by the unemployment and under-employment scourge, most parents use their underage children for marriage exchange in order to get a better life through their bride price,” said Samoxhose.
Samoxhose has called on communities to work together to expose such cases and enforce the law. She explained that in most cases it is girls being married to older men and the practice is deeply embedded on enabling patriarchal systems that benefit men while disempowering girls. “It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children. Let children be children and have a fair chance to education, good health and overall decent lives,” Samoxhose pleaded.
She noted that the audio book is an audio version of the same book which was published and distributed among schools in Ngamiland, adding that it will be availed for the public on the WAR website and Facebook page once it is complete. “The audio book will also be narrated by different students from those schools as a way of empowering them and to cater for the visually impaired as they are also affected by early child marriages,” said Samoxhose.
The book is a compilation of 20 different stories which portray a common concern from the writers calling out for abolition of early child forced marriages through their child voices. It tackles various angles of the title, depicting the different ways by which early and forced child marriages affect a child’s everyday life as well as experiences.
In efforts to curb early child marriages, the government has put in place defilement laws which pose a jail term of a minimum of 10 years for perpetrators who are involved in sexual relationships with girls who are 18 years and below.
However, authorities seem to not to be winning as only few cases of child marriages and defilement are not brought forth.