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Marriage and Poverty

D 1er mars 2016     H 05:20     A     C 0 messages

Tanzania has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the world with one in every six girls aged between 15 and 19 getting pregnant, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

While Tanzania has made huge progress in enrolling children in primary schools, few girls in rural areas manage to finish their education due to pregnancy said Consolata Mabula, a district social worker in Shinyanga region.

Zulmira Rodrigues, the UNESCO representative in Tanzania explained that “Education is the only key to allow young girls make informed decisions about their lives to improve their social economic wellbeing,” she said. According to her, most adolescent girls in rural areas often succumb to sexual violence and unwanted pregnancies due to a lack of proper reproductive health information.

“Some parents would rather marry off their daughters to get a dowry than let them go to school” said Leah Omari, a lecturer at the Institute of Social Work in Dar es Salaam. According to UNESCO, teachers in Shinyanga region reported that some parents have been instructing their daughters to deliberately fail so that their education would be terminated and then they could get married.

While sex with underage girls is criminalised in Tanzania, activists say parents often use this tactic to marry off their daughters under special dispensation granted by the marriage law. According to Tanzania’s Marriage Act of 1971, a girl as young as 15- years old can get married with parental or a court consent.

“Poverty is a key factor,” says Eda Sanga, the Executive Director of Tamwa - a women’s rights organisation based in Dar es Salaam. “Parents force underage girls to marry so they can escape the role of taking care of their daughters and grandchildren.”