Source: Global Post
In Benin, 34 percent of girls aged below 18 years and 8 percent of girls aged below 15 years are married, the resident representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Anne Vincent, said on Monday, noting the early marriage goes against children's right.
Addressing the press in Cotonou, Madam Anne said early marriages for children constitute a violation of fundamental principles of children's rights and the African Charter in this regard.
"The fundamental principle of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is that a child occupies a special place in the African society and has a right to be brought up in a family environment that is characterized by love and understanding, " she said.
She termed early marriage as a prejudicial act that denies children's access to education and causes them health problems such as early pregnancies which increase maternal and infant mortality.
In addition, she said, mistreatment is frequent in cases of early marriages.
"Sometimes children who refuse to get married or who choose a future that is against their parents' wishes, are mostly punished, " she said.
She regretted that even though both formal and customary systems define how marriages are to be conducted, customary systems have always promoted child marriages.
Other factors, she said, such as poverty, gender stereotypes, discrimination and religion have also promoted child marriages.