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Early, unplanned marriages worsen poverty

Mojabeng Moalosi

Many girls are married off before their 18th birthday or forced into early marriages that make them leave schools, depriving them of their right to education and future independence.

This was said by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) National Programme Analyst Maseretse Ratia during a presentation on the situation of early and unplanned girl child marriages in the country.

She said research indicate that taxi drivers, herd-boys, older men and teachers are mostly the ones responsible for teenage pregnancy, hence parents should be extra vigilant about protection of their daughters.

According to Ratia child brides are at the risk of experiencing domestic violence and will likely not proceed to complete school thus threatening the education and the economy of the country.

“Children who get married or have unplanned pregnancy are unlikely to finish their education and 80 percent of the girls who get married are from poor families and they get married to poor families also.

“Motherhood is hard especially to young children who do not have experience because they are psychologically unprepared and well equipped to become a mother. Having children at a young age may result in abuse, separating from family and friends and moving to the husband house like a piece of property and living with strangers is very depressing for a child bride,” Ratia stated.

She indicated that marriage increases the chances of HIV and AIDS infection. Being on ARV treatment at an early age may have some negative impacts on the young patient who is not yet psychologically prepared for such a lifestyle.

“Across Lesotho 20-35 years old female youth are HIV positive than males. Lesotho is popularly known as a Christian country but it is sad that young girls are being raped and parents say it’s a taboo for children to be taught about sex in schools.

“When doing studies, you will learn that most of the adolescents are not knowledgeable about sex hence they get pregnant at early age. 72 percent of boys and girls have started to have sex with multiply partners at age 15,” she said.

She pleaded with parents to give sex education to their children and that the Life Skills subject that is taught at schools should be taken very seriously just like Mathematics and English subject. Since most of the child marriage instances happen against the young brides’ consent, there have been cited cases wherein police have had to be involved especially when the children are forced into the marriage so much that at times they are abducted by their suitors.

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