#116Stories: Neighbour’s call help stop child marriage.
It was such a cool afternoon, and the Child Helpline was busy at work. Suddenly one of the counselors received a call from a woman who sounded a bit upset and burdened. So the Child helpline counselor had to inquire more from the caller to know what went wrong. The woman kept quiet for a bit to collect her thoughts, and the counselor allowed it for he needed all the information that was carried by the woman.
After so many thoughts she finally said something, and with heaviness she introduced herself as a next-door neighbor of a married couple. Do you know what she said? She said the couple is not an ordinary couple, it involves a twelve-year-old girl and an old man that fit to be her grandfather, ‘this disgusts me and it’s unacceptable.’ This poor girl is smart, she passed excellently enough to allow her to proceed to secondary school, but her parents thought that it’s a waste to educate a girl child and their best decision was to marry her off.
‘What a shame to her parents for such choice, they denied their daughter the right to proceed with her education simply because she is a girl, their indifference to gender equality denied them the eye to see what the future holds for their daughter. They neglected her dreams, desires, and aspirations but focused on getting the bride price and decided to sell her off. Shame upon these parents.’ She ended.
Well, immediately after speaking to the caller the Child Helpline counselor contacted the Social Welfare Officer of the area where the girl was situated to substantiate the claims raised by the neighbor. The claims were verified by the Social Welfare Officer that indeed the claims were factual and valid hence they needed to act fast to save the girl from her misery.
The Social Welfare Officer contacted the police through the Gender Desk, and they arrested the husband of the said girl. And guess what, a few days later we received a call from the Social Welfare Officer that the girl is finally studying for she was enrolled at school and she is currently under foster care where she will be staying for a while as she continues with her education.
Early marriage is the kind of marriage in which one or both partners are under eighteen years of age. This denies children the right to quality education and the opportunity to reach their dreams.
On average, 2 out of 5 girls will be married before they reach 18 years in Tanzania, (TDHS 2012). Girls have the right to choose when and who to marry and shouldn’t be forced into child marriages. Don’t stay silent when you learn that a child in your neighbourhood/community is being forced into marriage.
Call the National Child Helpline through toll-free number 116 to report violations of children’s rights.