For quit a long time ,efforts to fight against child marriages have been put in place ,laws have been enacted ,Acts were drafted ,but having done all that ,the world need to come up with a global minimum age for marriage which will act as an important tool to help those working to dissuade families and communities from marrying off their daughters at early stages .
this not only help children to have education opportunities and prevent them from sexual exploitation ,but is an important measure in the fight against HIV/AIDS .
firstly i will look at the The Probition of Child Marriage Act (2006),in this act ,UNICEF defines child marriage as marriage before the age of eighteen and the practice is considered as a violation of human rights .
however with differences in terms of ages of consent amongst societies , it is still a leading factor in bottlenecking the total eradication of child marriages .some societies considers 18 years as the minimum age of marriage ,while muslims agree that children under the age of 16 can marry with the permission of Sharia authorities ,according to custom mainly african ,the minimum age is 15 and yet the Protection of the Rights of the Child discourages marriage before the age of 16. These differences are a clear indicator that there is no consensus from the international world on the minimum age of marriage .
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959 pledges that ” mankind owes to the child the best it has to give ”this entails special protection as well as education opportunities and facilities .
It then becomes a problematic issue when girls as young as 13-15 are forced into marriage losing their education opportunities and are being exploited sexually by older men .
This also puts their health at risk as they cannot negotiate for safer sex due to their compromising state .HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is also considered to be high at the 10-15 followed by 15-24 age group and a lot of interventions are being put in place to make sure no one is left behind in the UNAIDS strategy of eradicating AIDS by 2030,but if societies continue to force their young girls into marriage even eradicating AIDS will be a cumbersome task.
There is a low awareness of Comphrehensive Sex Education among young girls hence they are also prone to the sexually transmitted infections among them HIV .
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) makes it an offense to involve children in an activity which impacts negatively on their health and well being .thus by marrying them early its a clear violation of their rights according to this convention .
It also empasizes the need for the government to protect children from exploitation,thus there is really a dire need for extensive efforts and practical measures by our governments to curb child marriages .
As countries continue to strengthen their commitment to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic ,i also think that the vulnerablity of young women and girls should not only be explained in biological factors ,but look at the gender iniqualities that exist in our societies which are acting as the driving force behing child marriage and making it difficult to eradicate HIV.
biological factors be taken into consideration ,it is noted that early child marriage will disrupt the normal sexual life of these young girls as their genital tracts are immature and more prone to invasion by HIV and socially, norms that are rigid even restrict women from accessing medication which further detriments the lives of these young girls .