Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African anti-apartheid activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and chair of the Elders, a group of independent global leaders working for human rights, was in Washington on Wednesday to promote his latest campaign: ending child marriage in the developing world. In 2011, the Elders created “Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage,” which now has 200 members in 38 countries.
“We are really pushing this campaign for ending child marriage by 2030. It’s prevalent all over what you might call the developing world. It’s in virtually every African country, said Tutu. “I was actually surprised. I used to think it was something that happened only in Asia. My eyes were opened by the fact that the highest incidence is actually in Africa.”
It is a tradition where the family recognizes that they will benefit economically from dowries and things of that kind, and also having one less mouth to feed. They also think they are concerned for the girl’s virtue, that she might end up maybe being raped. It’s economic, too. For a new family [that the woman is married into], you have one extra pair of hands.
But it is a very debilitating practice. The girl child is not physically, let alone emotionally, ready to bear a child. The statistics are that girls who give birth when they are under 15 are five times more likely to die giving birth than girls of 19 and over. Their children are 60 times more likely to die before their first birthday.
The World Liberty TV Team was on hand at The CGI 2012, where we had the pleasure of hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on the topic of Early Marriage.