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Plan pushes for action against early marriage

Early marriage180

Children raise awareness in their communities on the affects of early marriage

25 October, 2011: Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place in Australia this week, Plan has been pushing for action against early and enforced marriage.

In Sierra Leone for example, early and enforced marriage is very common but we are working hard to put an end to the practice by asking the government to reinforce laws and legislation to make it illegal.

In rural areas of Sierra Leone, 61% of girls are affected by early and enforced marriage, where 2 out of 4 girls are married before the age of 18. Since 2007 there has been legislation that forbids early marriage in the country however, with parental consent, it is permitted. This means that many girls have no choice but to marry young in order to help their families financially.

The biggest impact of early and enforced marriage is the illiteracy rate of girls who often drop out of school to get married, and then never return. This perpetuates the poverty cycle as these girls are not able to provide for themselves and their children without a proper education.

The solutions

With such devastating results, Plan Sierra Leone has been campaigning to end early and enforced marriage as well as providing classes in schools on reproductive health education and on human rights in order to change attitudes and perceptions.
Plan Sierra Leone has also developed an initiative whereby media is used to advocate gender inequality. Girls and boys come together to act out short plays to sensitise other children in their communities and schools on the issue of early marriage.

Microfinance projects in Sierra Leone are primarily aimed at young girls with families who have been subjected to early or enforced marriage, giving them the skills to build a business and provide for themselves and their children.

There is still a long way to go to put an end to early and enforced marriage across the world, but Plan works tirelessly to help those affected and collaborates with partners and governments to introduce and enact legislation to outlaw the practice.

Read more about what Plan does in Sierra Leone