INSPIRE A Child Bride to become A Princess Bride

Meghan is on her honeymoon, while Noura might be hunged tomorrow, in this article I will to show how we can prevent having more Noura. In 2015, the world started implementing a 17 goals strategy to ensure peaceful, prosperous, planet for all people know as the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDGs envision that this generation will leave a better world for the future generation, Among the 17 goals are the following goals specific on ending violence against children

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I will focus on goal 5.2 and 5.3 that aims to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM by 2030.  Hence by not eliminating child marriage the world will not have achieve the SDGs. Child Marriage is interlink with most of SDGs, for instance according to Girls not Brides, Child marriage fuels the cycle of poverty as the girl gets married young, they are unable to to attend school which interferes with Goal 4 on universal education and hence stays in poverty because they are not economic independent.

Child brides often face violence at the hands of their partners or their in-laws, especially if there is a large age difference. The violence of forced sexual initiation and early pregnancy have a lasting impact on married girls’ physical and mental health throughout their life.

To be able to deal with violence against children and help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The World health organisation in partnership with UNICEF developed a 7 strategy framework to End Violence Against Children by 2030. the strategise acronymed as INSPIRE came as a result of a research by WHO on ending violence against children which showed by investing the following it will contribute to ending violence.

Implementation and enforcement of laws

The strategy envision having laws that bun any form of violence against children and in this case, ending child marriage. In Kenya and in Africa we have very strong laws that prohibit child marriage, see figure belowWVK2018-7 (2)

The legal framework starts from the United nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child to Kenya’s children act, with a great emphasis on just launched general comment on ending child marriage.

Norms and values

In this strategy an emphasis is put on changing adherence to restrictive and harmful gender and social norms , Community mobilization programmes  and Bystander interventions. In child marriage, it involves questioning some traditional practices and involving non traditional stakeholder. My friend Tony Mwebia is very good in involving men in ending FGM and Child marriage, according to his experience, involving men is the key to ending the practice. see his blog here on this topic.

Safe environments

In this strategy, it is important to eliminate environmental factors that can lead to child marriage, for example how can we make communities responsive to sexual and reproductive needs for girls such as access to sanitary towels, clean toilets so that they are not force to go such for this else where and in the process get defiled or tricked into marriage….

Parent and caregiver support

parents are the first line of defence in ending child marriage, but sometimes they can be the reason that a child gets married early, how can we work with parents in ending violence against children. This will involve supporting parents through training, counselling or couching to be better parents.

Income and economic strengthening

Poverty is one of the leading cause of child marriage,  according to a report by University of pretoria, most girls get married early to escape the conditions at home, while others are forced to get married by there parents so that the family can have one less mouth to feed and a little income from the dowry. Hence by improving income at the house hold level, it result to improved food security and education access, thus ending child marriage. House income and economic strengthening means a deliberate investment by government and private sector to create employment through reviving industries, providing loans for capital ,working with communities to establish community financial systems an ending corruption which takes money away from the poor.

Response and support services

Going back to Noura, when she was forced to get married at the age of 15 years, she run away from home to her aunties place. It was the only place of refuge for her, she was able to go back to school and dream again. Imagine the social services would have taken over to ensure that she never goes back to her ‘husband’ she will not be facing death. Thus this strategy envision a seamless case management system that is preventive, protective and responsive to violence against children concerns. It envision a community with strong social workforce and better data management that will leave no child behind to fall through the system.

Education and life skills

There is a strong correlation between early marriage and low levels of enrolment and retention of girls in school. The reasons for this correlation are complex, since lack of access to formal education is a prime example of a social factor that both results from and renders girls more vulnerable to child marriage, this is according to UPCR report.

hence by educating a girl, we would have reduced the chances of the girl being married early by more that 75%.

Child marriage is complex but not hard to end, For instance, Delaware has become the first state in the US to completely outlaw marriage for anyone under 18. It just need all efforts put together. If you agree with me sign up here and commit to end child marriage.

Jennifer Kaberi is a Child Development and protection specialist and founder of Mtoto News.

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