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Mozambique moves to tackle child marriage

The Mozambican government on Monday initiated a massive dissemination of the national strategy to prevent and fight child marriages across the country, where data show nearly half of the women aged between 20 and 24 had married before the age of 18.

Mozambique is among the seven African countries with the highest prevalence of child marriages, and among the ten countries most affected by this phenomenon in the world, according to the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Cidalia Chauque.

Citing data from the most recent edition of the Demographic and Health Survey, published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), she said that 14 percent of Mozambican women aged between 20 and 24 had married before the age of 15, and 48 percent before they were 18 years old.

“This strategy reflects government’s commitment and that of the Mozambican society to protect children from early marriages that have serious consequences to children, their families and the society as a whole,” said the minister.

The minister said that the strategy defines priority actions in terms of communications, mobilization of the society, education and children in particular girl’s empowerment, mitigation among other sectors of valuable importance to bring the phenomenon down.

The government, Chauque added, is trying to raise the awareness of families, religious and traditional leaders, society at large and children themselves to the need to prevent child marriages.

The aspects that the strategy defines may help Mozambique reduce the high rate of child marriages particularly in the provinces of Nampula and Zambezia, the most populated of the country, Cabo Delgado, Tete and Manica provinces.

Mozambique is already behaving in a mode that fights child marriage when the articles that were not in favor of children victims of early marriage are scrapped from the penal code in 2014.

The national strategy to fight and prevent child marriages was highly hailed by civil society organizations when it was approved by the Council of Ministers last year.

Church leaders and civil society organizations backed by the country’s first lady held meetings to discuss important steps that each part should play in fighting this phenomenon.

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