Malawi ranks ninth in terms of countries with the highest level of girls under 18 already married. Almost half of all marriages – 47% – are made up of men over the age of 18 and girls under the age of 18. But of that number, a quarter are under 15! The worst comes when they are asked about how this relationship is. Almost 83% acknowledge that their husband physically abuses them. And most have not married voluntarily, but have been pressured by their families.
While some families see their daughters as a financial burden and decide to give them to someone who can take care of them, others do so with the girl’s well-being and future in mind. But in no case is she considered what she wants. Early marriage causes girls to stop going to school and give up all the dreams they may have had at some point. They go from being subject to the family to being too abusive to a husband. As an example, we have a Human Rights Watch report that sums it all up: «I’ve never felt happy.» These are the words of a fourteen-year-old girl, already with a child and abandoned by her husband.
What can we do about it? From Petits Músics del Món we are very clear that we need to create a state of mind that will put an end to this practice. It’s about empowering girls, ensuring that all girls and boys study, but also breaking the cycle of poverty. And here we are.
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