State in tough stance against early marriages

THE government has launched a National Strategic Plan to end all forms of violence against women and children in the country, including early and premature pregnancies.

This was said before the National Assembly here yesterday by Deputy Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla when responding to a question by Anne Kilango Malecela (nominated-CCM). The deputy minister said that such plan was launched on December 13, last year by nine different ministers of the government, who expressed their commitment to ensure such evil acts become history in a few years to come. He explained that the plan, whose implementation was expected to take off on July this year, was aimed at preventing and reducing all forms of violence to children by 50 per cent.

According to the deputy minister, the plan has a projection of reducing early pregnancies for children from 47 per cent to only 10 per cent by 2022. In the question, the lawmaker explained that there have been rampant early marriages for children in the country, which have adverse impact in the society, and wanted to know the governments plan in ending such vice. Dr Kigwangalla told the House that the government recognises the negative impacts caused by childhood marriages in the Tanzanian society.

Such marriages, the minister pointed out, deny girl children the opportunity of access to education, thus leading them to poverty. Furthermore, he pointed out that even early pregnancies were dangerous to the welfare of the girl child because biologically she could not safely deliver and it has, in many cases, caused deaths.

The deputy minister explained further that according to available statistics, in 2016 early childhood pregnancies were rampant in Shinyanga region with 59 per cent, followed by Tabora region with 58 per cent, Mara with 55 per cent, while Dodoma had 51. In order to contain such challenge, Dr Kigwangalla said that the government has taken several measures, including provision of positive parenting education so that those involved could understand the importance of educating a female child.

He pointed out that such education has been provided to 72 district councils, municipal and towns and more efforts have been directed at educating families, traditional elders and the society in general to do away with outdated customs of officiating marriages to girls.

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