AFRICA/SWAZILAND - Marriages between adult men and minor girls still go unpunished

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mbabane (Agenzia Fides) - The phenomenon of early marriages between adult men and young girls still children, continues to be very serious in the world. Recent data highlight that about 70 million women between 20-24 years of age were married before the age of 18. Of these, about 23 million were forced to marry before they were 15. The consequences of this widespread practice are lethal: every year 50 000 girls between 15 and 19 years die during pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. In Swaziland, although there is a new law for the protection of minors, this is not totally respected and is "tailored" to individual cases. For example, if a man chooses to marry according to the traditional rite and the bride's parents agree, the authorities cannot prosecute anyone. Poorer families often give their daughters in exchange for cattle and money, not to mention the serious psychological problems as well as social that the young have who will remain uneducated because busy doing housework. Early marriages also contribute to the spread of AIDS and Swaziland registers the highest prevalence rate of HIV in the world, despite a law which was enacted in 2011 by the king stating chastity for girls up to 24 years age. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 30/01/2013)