INVOLVING MEN IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD AND FORCEFUL MARRIAGES.
In October 2018 Children Home International launched a mass one month campaign to sensitize men on the dangers of forceful marriages, early marriages, and child marriages. A series of educative talks and counseling were carried out in the locality of Garoua-Boulai reaching to about 1700 men. The talks took place in classrooms, in front of mosque, markets, chiefdoms, refugees’ camps and streets. Imams, traditional rulers, and youth leaders volunteered to help mobilize men and arrange venues for talks.
Discussions were initiated by the definition of child marriage, forceful and early marriage. Then questions were asked to participants if such marriages existed in their communities. The reply was always a big yes – all these forms of marriages exist in our communities. We then proceeded by asking them the causes and reasons for such practices. Three causes and reasons were recurrent:
Firstly Poverty, families gave out their daughters for the exchange of material and financial benefits.
Secondly, girls were sent into early marriage as a way of protecting them from unwanted pregnancies.
Lastly, girls are sent into early marriage as a result of their attachment to customs and traditions.
Children Home International field agents and Para jurist proceeded by educating the participants on the laws regulating marriage in Cameroon and the different international protocols rectified by the Cameroon government on marriage.
• National law, article 52 of ordonance no 81/062 of 29 June 1981. This fixes minimum marriage age to 15 for girls and 18 for men.
• The regional convention duly ratified by Cameroon; the chart on human rights relative to the rights of the woman or the Maputo protocol in its article 6 which fixes marriage age to 18 for both men and women.
We then followed our discussion by underlining the effects of early marriages. Some of which are clandestine abortions, deformation of the uterus, high rate of school dropouts, no legal protection, psychological violence, high rate of maternal mortality and morbidity, poverty, multiple partners and prostitution. Most of these effects were illustrated with real-life examples.
At the end of it all, participants were encouraged to always legalize their unions. They were encouraged to always sign a marriage certificate. This important in that it ensures legal protection for the different partners and guides against early marriage as the civil status register cannot sign a marriage certificate for minors.
By Abosi Muma, President, and Co-founder, Children Home International