Youth called to fight against forced underage marriages

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi has challenged South African youth formations to lead campaigns against underage forced marriages, saying they have a disastrous impact on their education, health and emotional wellbeing.

“Youth formations have to play their role by ensuring not even a single young woman is abducted and forced into a marriage. They should do this by teaching our young people about the dangers of forced marriages, their rights and by ensuring that they stop forced marriages by reporting them to the police or the Department of Social Development,” said MEC Thusi.

Speaking during the Youth Parliament held in Greytown this week, MEC Thusi said she was concerned that girls under the age of 18 continued to be abducted and forced into marriages.

This is a violation of their constitutional rights and South African laws.

“We have enacted laws to protect women because we do not want their constitutional rights to be violated as it used to happen in the past. South African law is very clear … forced marriage of a child under the age of 18 and marriage of a woman over 18 without consent are both prohibited by law.

“We need our communities to report any violations of these laws so that our law enforcement agencies can act,” she said.

Far reaching implications

MEC Thusi warned that forced marriages had far reaching implications on young women.

When young girls are forced to enter into marriages, they are forced to leave school as their role becomes that of carrying out domestic work and bearing children. “We cannot allow that to happen,” she said.

She called on girls who experienced abuse to visit the Social Development offices for professional counselling and advice.

“Our social workers are available to provide counselling and we call on our communities to utilise these free services so that we can create a society which is safe and secure for women and children.”

Be sensitive to victims of forced marriages

During the commemoration of the Day of the African Child 2015 on Monday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini emphasised the importance for healthcare workers and court officials to be sensitive to child victims of forced marriages.

She called for them to be skilled and trained to communicate with children. – SAnews.gov.za

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