Leaders move against child marriage and female genital mutilation

Friday, 04 January 2019

Lagos | UNIC Lagos

Traditional and religious leaders in West and Central Africa have moved to end child marriage, female genital mutilation, and other harmful practices in the region.

“We agree to break our silence by condemning totally, and standing against, any form of violence. We adopt zero tolerance to these modern forms of slavery, brutal crimes and inhuman indignities on our women,” they declared after a four-day dialogue on ending child marriage, female genital mutilation, and other harmful practices.

UN Women organized the event, which ran from 4 to 7 December 2018, in Lagos.

In a declaration jointly presented by the Emir of Shonga, HRH Dr. Haliru Yahaya and the Secretary General of the National Alliance of Traditional Authorities of Congo (DRC), His Majesty Mfumu Difima (ROI KONGO), the traditional rulers committed to recognizing 18 as the age of marriage. It directs all customary courts to consider marriage below 18 as a crime and enforce such decisions.

“We recommend that measures are initiated to blacklist the perpetrators, fight impunity in our communities and ensure access to justice, enforcement of the rule of law and punishment of perpetrators of this crime,” they said.

In her opening remarks, Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, Regional Director for UN Women, said the UN would continue to provide all the technical support needed to end child marriage and female genital mutilation in Africa.

She urged the traditional rulers to make definite pronouncements against child marriage and female genital mutilation, as their voice could end these harmful practices.

Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, noted that girls and women across all African countries experience child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful cultural practices. Some of the implications of these practices include lack of access to education and sexual/reproductive health, as well as, unemployment and death.

He commended the efforts of the UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF in their investment towards #EndingChildMarriage in Africa, while encouraging traditional and religious leaders to remain committed to supporting the UN and other stakeholders to end the menace around the world.

The UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos provided communication support to the conference.