The early marriage of young girls in Cameroon can be traced back to an interplay of traditional, religious and social views, which unfortunately do not consider the interests of the girls concerned. These beliefs come in addition to the poverty of the families (knowing one's daughter provided for). The consequences are often devastating for the girls concerned, as in "marriage" they become more slaves than equal partners. They usually do not go to school, are overburdened with household chores and often experience verbal, physical and sexual violence. Many of them become pregnant much too early. Our partner CIPCRE Cameroon studied the extent of early marriage in four communities and found that it affects girls in three out of five families. There are hardly any counseling or support services in their communities.
Young girls who escape a forced "marriage" are left to fend for themselves. Although they are in
urgent need of support, they are often denied re-entry into the family because of the above-mentioned beliefs. Our partner CIPCRE Cameroon studied the extent of early marriage in four communities and
found that girls are affected in three out of five families. To provide for themselves and their young children, they are then forced to engage in exploitative work in the informal sector, beg, or
agree to remarry. In doing so, they once again expose themselves to great risks of violence and exploitation.
The project aims to raise awareness among parents and in society to facilitate the family and social reintegration of forcibly married girls.
Parents are moved to reaccept their daughters after a failed marriage and provide them with the support they need. Religious and traditional leaders, who play an important role in matchmaking and marriage, are also sensitized to the perspective, rights and needs of girls. Through their influence, they can contribute to a change of awareness in the population in order to improve the situation of affected girls in the project communities in the long term and to create a caring and protective environment for these girls.
In addition, some of the accompanied girls become ambassadors for their rights. They sensitize their environment for the perspective of the girls and support other affected girls.
150 girls who have been married off early, including underage mothers, are sustainably reintegrated in their family and social life.
Cover picture: Parents protectively stand in front of their daughter and refuse to marry her off early to a much older man. © ALDEPA
Kinderrechte Afrika e. V.
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Kinderrechte Afrika e. V.