Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani on Tuesday said that children should be protected against child marriage.
She was speaking during the launch of National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage in Kabul.
“Forced marriage of children is sorrowful. According to science and medics, child marriage is harmful highly risky and has disastrous consequence in the country,” Rula said.
According to the First Lady, child marriage could be a factor of increase in maternal death rate in the country.
Child marriage is a major problem in Afghanistan. It is said to carry the risk of sexual violence, risk of HIV infection and other health risks relating to early birth.
“In our country, children’s consent is not considered during marriage. We will work to prevent early marriages in Afghanistan. With the implementation of National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage, we will prevent this sorrowful tragedy and reduce violence in Afghanistan,” said Habiba Wahaj, an adviser on women’s affairs for second vice-president.
According to Afghan Ministry of Public Health last year, 53 percent of women aged between 25 and 49 were marked before the age of 18.
“A girl who is below 18 is capable of rapidly gaining wisdom and knowledge from the people around her,” Bannet Ndyananbangi, the UNFPA country representative, said during the event. “She can be one day, an inspiring leader, a productive worker, an innovator a caring parent to take anyother role that empowers a society. She can shape the future of her society. But all this depend on how we support her today.”
This is the first time that a national action plan is developed in Afghanistan to eliminate the practice of early and child marriage.
Welcoming the plan, Kenneth Neufeld, the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, said that it would increase awareness among the people.
He urged the government institutions to implement the plan so that the families are convinced to stop child marriage.