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  • Maryam El-haj

Tanzania's conversation on child marriage begins: Insights from a BAKWATA meeting

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Hey there, hope you've had an awesome Monday! I'm Maryam El-haj, a PR & brand development specialist who's had the privilege of contributing to Azam's success for over a decade.

As a young mother and a practicing Muslim, I've found myself pondering the changes we're witnessing in the landscape of child marriage across the Muslim world while the government is consulting – in fact, government started consulting immediately after the Tanzania Court of Appeal upheld the landmark 2016 ruling by the High Court against child marriage!

Curious and eager for an open conversation, I sat down with select BAKWATA national leaders in Dodoma. On Thursday, November 9, 2023, over dinner, we delved into the topic. Our chat centered on the legal minimum age of marriage in Tanzania—14 years (with court permission & 15 years with parental consent) for girls and 18 years for boys.

Photo: At a dinner table with select BAKWATA leaders in Dodoma.

We took a comparative look at the legal minimum ages of marriage in countries such as Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Algeria. It’s fascinating to note that these nations have set the minimum age at 18 for both men and women. This discrepancy between Tanzania and predominantly Muslim countries became a starting point for our discussion.

Our key question was simple: What's preventing Tanzania from aligning with similar legal standards? While acknowledging that, in Islam, a female child is considered marriage-ready upon puberty, BAKWATA sees no issue with advocating for the same child to wait until 18 years and beyond—especially in consideration of education.

This conversation has just begun. We're diving deeper into the Islamic perspective on child marriages and their repercussions within Muslim communities across our country. Our goal is to find a solution that ensures every child in Tanzania is nurtured, safeguarded, and offered the opportunities to flourish into responsible adulthood.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Maryam El-haj

This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this text are the sole responsibility of the project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of European Union.



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