In a new report 'No Way Out: Child Marriage and Human Rights Abuses in Tanzania', Human Rights Watch documents how child marriage severely curtails girls’ access to education, and exposes them to exploitation, violence, and reproductive health risks.
Discriminatory and vague government education policies and practices facilitate early marriages, seriously undermining girls’ education and opportunities, Human Rights Watch said. Many Tanzanian schools have mandatory pregnancy testing. The Government also allows schools to expel or exclude married students or students who commit offenses 'against morality,' widely understood to include pre-marital sex or pregnancy.
The Government’s Primary School Leaving Examination, which determines which pupils may proceed to secondary school, also exposes girls to child marriage, Human Rights Watch found. Salia J., 19, was forced to marry at 15 after failing the leaving exam. “My father decided to get me a man to marry me because I was staying at home doing nothing,” she said.
Tanzania’s Marriage Act of 1971 sets the minimum age at 18 for boys and 15 for girls with parental consent. It also permits both girls and boys to marry at 14 with a court’s permission.
“Tanzania’s draft Constitution unfortunately provides no minimum age for marriage,” said Brenda Akia, women’s rights research fellow at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The Tanzanian Government should show leadership on child marriage by making 18 the minimum age in the Marriage Act and providing stronger protections against child marriage.”
The Human Rights Watch report is based on in-depth interviews with 135 girls and women in 12 districts in Tanzania, as well as with government officials, local activists, and international agency personnel.
Read the full press release, here.
Access the full report, here.