Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Mozambican religious leaders say they are ready to work on reducing the level of child marriage in the country.Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, Bernardo Ndimande, chairperson of the Inter-Religious Alliance for Advocacy and Social Development (AIRDES), said 120 religious leaders are expected to attend the first forum on child marriage due to be held in the southern city of Matola on 26-27 August. The Forum will draw up a declaration formalising the commitment of the various religious denominations to the fight against child marriage. Ndimande said the hope was that religious bodies will actively spread the message among society persuading parents to prevent their daughters from marrying while they are still children.  Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, and this is regarded as one of the main reasons for girls dropping out of school. A report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) last year said that 48 per cent of girls in Mozambique marry before their 18th birthday, and a shocking 18 per cent marry before they are 15 years old.Child marriage leads to pregnancy at an early age, with all the risks this entails for the life and health of the mother and her baby  .Ndimande believed that mobilising religious leaders against child marriage could have a major impact. “The role of the religious leaders in this action is of fundamental importance because a religious leader is always in contact with society”, he claimed. “In these contacts, he can leave messages, and appeal to the community against child marriage”.  He wanted to see a tougher line from the country’s parliament the Assembly of the Republic in drawing up the legal framework to fight against child marriage. “All actions in the fight against premature marriage should have a uniform approach”, he said, “and if the Assembly were to draw up a law in their regard, that would be of added value”.

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