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One in four girls married before 18 in sub-Saharan Africa: UNICEF

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Africa has the highest rate of child marriage in the world where one in four girls in sub-Saharan Africa is married before the age of 18 years. Celeste Feris of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said this […]

Africa has the highest rate of child marriage in the world where one in four girls in sub-Saharan Africa is married before the age of 18 years.

Celeste Feris of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said this during the International Day of the African Child celebration at the Rundu Stadium on Thursday.

“Today in Africa and around the world, 650 million girls and women have been married as children and over 200 million have been subjected to female genital mutilation,” she said.

Feris said this year’s celebration is for countries to take stock of what they have done with regard to the adoption of policies and reflect on what more needs to be done to effectively eliminate harmful practices affecting children in Namibia.

“Harmful practices deny children especially girls their childhood and also threaten the future and wellbeing of individuals and families in society,” she noted.

At the policy level, Feris said Namibia should be congratulated for doing well in policy development on issues affecting children.

“We are among the seven countries in Africa that have made provision in statutory law regarding harmful practices. However, at the same time it is also disheartening to observe that with all the policies and legal framework by which our actions are guided, we seem to have fallen short in harmonising our customary legal norms with our practices,” she noted.

According to her, the recent Namibia Demographic and Health Survey shows that the prevalence of child marriage among women in Namibia is 18.4 per cent and that by region the highest prevalence of child marriage among women was reported in the Kavango regions at 39.7 per cent.

On her part Deputy Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Bernadette Jagger said the Day of the African Child this year presents the opportunity to review the status of harmful practices affecting children in Namibia by highlighting the issues they face in their daily lives.

She said children exposed to harmful practices are at risk of suffering from both physical and mental health breakdowns and that these practices further have a negative impact on children’s dignity and moral integrity, amongst other issues.

The day is celebrated under the theme ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children – Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency

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