BY DOYIN OJOSIPE
African Leaders have been urged to take necessary action towards ending child marriage as part of commitments made by the African Union and United Nations.
The Save The Children, a not for Profit Organisation in a report explained that apart from early marriage being a key barrier to further progress in child rights, it has also become one of the worst forms of child abuse, denying girls an education and often subjecting them to health.
The organisation’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mr Jim Emerson in his words said, “Our findings tell us that getting, and keeping, girls in school has an especially strong protective effect against early marriage.
“A girl who remains in school will be able to complete her education, creating the opportunity for a generation of future leaders and a positive cycle of progress for the region as a whole.”
The NGO further said that, although childhood marriage around Central and West Africa dropped by 8 percent from the 1990, it is still one of the leading causes of stolen childhood.
“The practice still ends the childhoods of more than a million girls every year in the region,” it said.
Its report further revealed that the rates of early marriage and out-of-school tend to go hand-in-hand in West and Central Africa.
Urging African leaders to move against the negative trend, Save The Children warned that if no action were taken to end the practice, Africa would account for nearly half of the girls married off before their 18th birthday by 2050.
The Organisation however lamented that about one third of children around the globe had their childhood stolen following reasons of extreme violence and conflict which mostly occur in their families and homes including child labour, poor health and not being able to go to school.
“The Stolen Childhoods report has found that at least 700 million children and possibly hundreds of millions more, have had the promise of a full childhood brought to an early end,” it said.