Ending child marriage and child pregnancy

 

Child marriage and child pregnancy have been rising at an alarming rate in humanitarian settings. It is commonly understood that forced displacement can lead to increased rates of early and forced childhood marriage.

This is certainly the case for refugee girls living in Dzaleka camp where they face multiple barriers that prevent them from enjoying their rights and fulfil their full potential.  Dzaleka Camp is one of the place in Malawi facing the challenge of Child early and forced marriages and unwanted babies. Malawi’s restrictive policies on freedom of movement and the right to employment limits refugees’ opportunities to earn a living. Poverty drives many families to marry their daughters in exchange for a dowry as a way to cope with economic hardship. Likewise, Refugees in Dzaleka are currently getting 6 kgs of food monthly. The non-sufficient food is currently creating challenges.   Without any access to some source of income, refugee women, especially adolescent girls are even forced into unsafe prostitution to survive, which put them at great risk of HIV infection.

SOFERES believes this critical issue requires urgent action and an expanded focus to shift the negative trend and protect the lives of refugee girls in Dzaleka refugee Camp.

As we mark our 6th year of working for equality in the refugee context, here is what SOFERES is doing to address child marriage among girls affected by this humanitarian crisis.

  1. Hosting community and family dialogues, to mediate and discuss incentives to oppose child marriage.
  2. Training community peer-educators on girls’ rights, girl child early and forced marriage, reproductive health issues and establishing Girls Not Brides Clubs that continue to campaign against girl child marriage in the entire schools and communities.
  3. Providing sanitary products, education and support to manage menstrual health for schoolgirls.
  4. Providing scholastic materials such as books, pens, bags, pencils for schoolgirls at risk of child marriage.
  5. Providing vocational and business training skills for out-of-school girls, so that they can earn an independent living.
  6. Educating communities and working with law enforcement to enforce existing laws.
  7. Developing a network of leaders and school official to identify vulnerable girls.