By Fatoumatta K Jallow
Kunle Adeniyi, head of office, or head of operation, of the United Nations Population Fund in the country, has welcomed the government of The Gambia’s recent ban on child marriage in a press briefing held at their head office in Bakau, Cape-point, on July 14, 2016.
Mr. Kunle said his office was happy about the ban on child marriage and would give every necessary support to the government of the Gambia on issues of such. He also welcomed the government for taking political measures on female genital mutilation (FGM), violence against children.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Kunle highlighted that child marriage is a human rights violation, and threatens girls’ lives and health and it limits their future prospects.
He stressed that one of the leading causes of death in maternal mortality is child marriage and that anyone who is a convert to the message should be an advocate of it to those who don’t know about the harmful effects of child marriage.
He pointed out that everyone wants a child that will be helpful in general and to the family in particular, but that child marriage makes girls to be dependent, because it’s like a child who needs help is given a responsibility to take care of another child, which is her own at a wrong time.
He said child marriage also constitutes child right violation, because teenagers are not capable of handling early motherhood and it also stops them from going to school, and deprives them of making decision on their own, causing them economic restriction which, if given opportunity to grow up to expectation, or given the space to develop her own potential, she would be able to create opportunities not only in the economic areas of her own but the country as whole.
Girls forced into child marriage often become pregnant while still adolescent, increasing the risk of complications in pregnancy or childbirth. These complications are a leading cause of death among older adolescents in developing countries.
He said his office promotes legislation and a programme designed to end child marriage, and also supports evidence-based, girl centered investments that empower girls with information, skills and services they need to be healthy, educated and safe, helping them make a successful transition to adulthood as they stand to deliver to a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
He said that they as well help young girls make a successful transition to adulthood and also works to support the needs of married girls, particularly in family planning and maternal health.
According to him, when a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future change radically, and rarely for the better. Pregnancy before a girl is physically, developmentally and socially ready jeopardizes her right to a safe, successful life.
Effective strategies and interventions to empower girls are needed to reduce their vulnerability to adolescent pregnancy.
In conclusion, he said every year his office commemorates the world population day, which affects billions of people in the world and it’s focusing on inventions which 64 per cent are below 25 years, 42 below 15 years, and 20 per cent are young girls.