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Child marriage on decline in Afghanistan: UNICEF

Child marriage on decline in Afghanistan: UNICEF

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Jul 29, 2018 - 12:56

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) and UNICEF are set to launch today (Sunday) the first-ever study on child marriage in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

 “This study is unique, it not only builds on previous studies, but also looks at child marriage from various angles, providing a comprehensive picture of this practice,” says, Minister of Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled Faizullah Zaki. 

He slammed child marriage as an appalling violation of human rights that robbed children of their educationinfo-icon, healthinfo-icon and childhood.  The minister urged parents to work together with the government to end child marriage.

Finalised under the leadership of MoLSAMD, the study shows the security situation, poverty, deeply embedded beliefs and social norms put girls at a disadvantage.

It says attention is often focused on the health-related impact of child marriage, with a limited understanding of the impact on education, nutrition and girls’/womeninfo-icon’s participation in economic development.

Although there has been a reduction in child marriage in Afghanistan, it remains high.  The unwanted practice, the study indicates, has dropped by 10 per cent over a span of five years. 

UNICEF Representative Adele Khodr said: “We commend the relentless efforts of the government to reduce this practice and their strong commitment to child rights.”

However, she added: “Yet, further consolidated action is needed by the different actors in societyinfo-icon to put an end to this practice and reach the goal of ending child marriage by 2030.” 

In 42 per cent of households at least, the study says, one member of the family got married before the age of 18.  Yet, significant regional disparities exist, varying from 21 per cent of households in Ghorinfo-icon to 66 per cent in Paktia having at least one member who got married before the age of 18. 

The study was carried out in five provinces -- Bamyan, Kandahar, Paktia, Ghor and Badghis -- representing urban, semi-urban and rural areas. 

It highlights multiple factors behind child marriage, complementing already existing studies.  In 78 per cent of households, fathers are the main decision makers on issues related to marriage.

As many as 55.7 per cent of respondents agreed girls and boys must be consulted.

Khodr called for ending child marriage to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and give girls and women opportunities to engage and participate fully in their society. 

“Getting all girls into school is a key element in reducing child marriage, and it is important to convince parents, especially fathers to send, and keep their daughters in school.”

sa/mud

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