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"The adverse effects of child marriage on girls are inevitable. Early and child marriage robs a girl her childhood and denies her right to education and having a healthy live", said Mohammad Younus Payab, UNFPA Assistant Representative at the kickoff of the two day consultative workshop on prevention of early and child marriage at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul City.

This event was initiated by the Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs and Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Disables with the technical support of UNFPA and logistical support of Hewad organization. The workshop brought together stakeholders from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, such as the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Women's Affairs, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information and Culture.

According to the Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan, 17.3 percent of girls aged 15-19 and 66.2 percent of girls aged 20-24 are married. The Afghanistan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (AMICS) 2010-2011 found that 15.2 percent of surveyed women were married before the age of 15 and 46.4 per¬cent before 18. As the statistics predict a pressing situation, there is no national policy as such to prevent this cultural tradition. "Our youth is the future of our country and therefore they need to be protected. We not only need boys to rebuild Afghanistan and to participate in the society, but also girls must play an essential role", said Mohammad Nabi Farahi, the Acting Minister of Information and Culture. "Our religious leaders can help to educate people within the Islamic values to eliminate this practice", he continued.

The Acting Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Disables, Wasel Noor Momand, tells an anecdote about his recent trip to the province of Herat. "I met girls who were married off by their families to very old men, not with the intension of having a family life and reproduction, but only to serve those men in their old days. This was very sad to see."

Asif Nang, Acting Minister of Education pinpointed the fact that young girls must have the right to be educated. "Young people must have the right to prosper before they start a family life. They need to be educated first and to understand life and then get married which is an Islamic right. Educated youth are not only able to edify a healthy family, but they can also fully participate in their society."

One of the reasons for early marriage, the officials pointed, is poverty. Poor families marry their young daughters off in order to survive. However, this should not be a justification for early and child marriage. Karamatullah Seddiqi, a representative of the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs stated that the media is also responsible for educating people. Through the media channels the right information can be provided, because according to him people misunderstand the information in the Holy Koran.

Another downside of early and child marriage are health issues. Obstetric fistula, HIV, heavy blood loss during and after the pregnancy are a couple of conditions young girls are facing in Afghanistan today. "Women and girls are dying because of this practice", says Fawzia Amini, a judge from the Supreme Court in Kabul. According to the national law a girl is allowed to marry once she reaches the age of sixteen. "But this doesn't mean that she should marry one day after her birthday. No, she should complete this age meaning that she almost turns seventeen", she continued.

All the attendees of the ministries are on a common ground. They want to eliminate this practice and to protect girls from the dangers of early and child marriage. One of the recommendations is to register birth and marriages by the government. Currently marriages are not registered and that makes it difficult to trace this problem.

During this two day workshop the representatives of the mentioned ministries worked on a National Action Plan for which they were divided in four groups. Each group worked on an issue that is related to early and child marriage. After discussing these issues the group prepared a presentation with recommendations. On the basis of the presentations the National Action Plan was drafted which contains preparations for a National Conference on Early and Child Marriage and also to conduct a survey across different provinces in Afghanistan to investigate up-to-date data on child and early marriage practices in the country.


Press Release:

Two day consultative workshop on prevention of early and child marriage in Afghanistan