By Rohey Jadama Child Fund International the Gambia will today join the rest of the world to celebrate and commemorate the day of the African child with the theme “25 years after the adoption of the African Charter:Accelerating our collective efforts to end child marriage in Africa” at the Lamin Football field. This is a day in which the innocent school children of Soweto who were massacred by the then apartheid regime of South Africa are remembered. Speaking at a press conference at the Child Fund Head office in Kanifing, the National Director of Child Fund Mr. James Pimundu said as a child protection and development agency that strives to tackle underlying causes of deprivation, exclusion and vulnerability, they have in the last 25 years been standing shoulder to shoulder with governments, civil society organisations and community members to remember the Day of the African child. Child marriage in Africa is of concern to them as people. He continued, “Africa has the second highest rate of child marriage globally after Asia, 39% of girls are married before their 18th birthday. 13% of girls are married before the age of 15 years and 15 out of 20 countries with the highest rate of child marriage are in Africa”, said the National Director of Child Fund. Mr. Pimundu said the causes of child marriage are gender inequality especially those differentiating between male and female roles in economic terms, poverty, cultural and religious practices that reinforces early marriage and weak law enforcement. He said the consequences of child marriage are maternal mortality and morbidity due to pregnancy and child birth disabilities associated to childbirth, STIs, violating child’s rights not limited to education, parental care and protection and child trafficking. The Child Fund National Director said we should safeguard childhood against child marriage, create awareness regarding the negative impacts of child marriage, empower communities and households economically, and call upon religious and cultural leaders in safeguarding childhood against child marriage, prosecuting cases, amongst others.]]>

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