Madagascar: UN helps fight child marriage

Мадагаскар: ООН помогает бороться с детскими браками

In Madagascar, so-called economic violence is traditionally practiced, as well as violations of the rights of girls even before their birth. Madagascar: UN helps fight child marriage Women

In southern Madagascar, efforts are being made to end the traditional but illegal practice of promising girls as wives to adult men, sometimes even before they are born.

Arranged marriages in Madagascar usually involve the exchange of the highly prized zebu cow for teenage girls as young as 13 years old. Currently, two UN agencies – UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – are working with local authorities to conduct training sessions on the dangers of this practice and the importance of gender equality.

Lehilahi Modeli took part in one of these sessions in the village of Ifotaka, in the south of the island. UN News Service’s Daniel Dickinson spoke with him ahead of International Women’s Day.

Мадагаскар: ООН помогает бороться с детскими браками

About 30 men gathered in a small village house. The topic of the class is the types of violence that women and girls are subjected to. Men discuss images depicting various manifestations of gender-based violence.

“I chose a picture of a man about to hit a woman,” says Lehilahi. “And there are also images depicting sexual and psychological violence, as well as child abuse.” even before they were born. Poor families agree to exchange their unborn daughter for a zebu cow.

Zebu is a sign of wealth and respectability. She is at the center of many traditions; for example, in some ethnic groups, boys are forced to steal a cow as a rite of passage into manhood. Zebu is usually sacrificed to celebrate birth, circumcision ceremony, death or marriage.

Many teenage girls are forced to leave their family at some point in their lives to become the wife of a much older the age of the man. The husband may have other wives, since polygamy is also practiced in Madagascar. Girls who refuse such an agreement are expelled from the family. There have been cases where teenagers in this situation have committed suicide.

“Girls essentially have no choice,” says Lehilahi. – They cannot live like ordinary children and go to school. Now I see that some men are recognizing that we need to change our attitude and start thinking that women have the same rights as us. Change won’t come tomorrow, but men must do everything they can to stop this illegal practice.”


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