TOO YOUNG TO MARRY
Photography by Eli Reed
"I think that we should all wait for the right moment, at least until our 20s, before we get pregnant."
- Alice Velemo Nhancume, 15, mother of 4-month old baby
Child marriage is a form of violence. In Mozambique more than half of girls are married before turning 18.
Reports confirm that 38% of teenagers are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. At school, it is not uncommon for teachers to give passing grades in return for sexual favours. Silenced by fear and not knowing where or how to seek help, girls often drop out of school.
In Mozambique, communities often accept child abuse and a culture of silence prevails. Reporting is minimal, with sexual abuse for example usually resolved at family- or community-level, preventing perpetrators from being brought to justice or sent to jail. Child victims themselves rarely have access to adequate health and social services.
All this will have to change.
In the fight against child marriage, UNICEF is helping children access legal and medical aid, training teachers, physicians, police officers and judges, and raising awareness through schools, religious groups and community radios.
But more needs to be done, most urgently, on the response side. Interventions that help push more cases of violence against children through to the justice system, so that they are properly tried in courts of law, need urgent scale-up.