I #choosetochallenge CHILD MARRIAGE

charlenegailtaruwona
Posted March 20, 2021 from Zimbabwe
Let us fight for our girls, our future

Sexual and gender based violence is a cancer in my community which has ravished homes and destroyed families. It takes on many forms including child-marriage which mostly affects girls, because of their vulnerability, and leads to violation of their human rights. Child-marriage is not only in my community but in many other communities in Africa with its negative consequences going beyond the child brides themselves but also to their children and the development and prosperity of a nation. What makes this cancer worse is that it is fueled by the culture of silence, culture of denial, blame and male dominance.

I have a passion for the family unit because I see it as the cornerstone of society. Strong family units generate wholesome children who in themselves become wholesome members of society. Where then is the family unit and our communities getting it all wrong if we have to constantly battle child marriages? Where then are our girls supposed to run to for safety and support?

When I was young I remember asking, on different occasions, about some girls I would no longer see in my community or at church. The response I got was always that they had been married.  I remember asking about a particular girl at my church who used to learn and was friends with my older sister in primary school and being told that she had gotten married to a certain pastor who was part of our church in the rural areas. She was 16 years old. Back then I did not see anything wrong with that and I’m sure many girls didn’t either. At church we would be taught that for a woman, marriage was the ultimate achievement and so for those who were married earlier it was taken as great fortune. These marriages were celebrated.

Nowadays, however, we have legislation prohibiting the marriage or marrying off of a child below the age of 18. Despite this though, girls are being married off and communities sometimes turning a blind eye, watching from a distant and keeping silent because “people should not get involved in other people’s business”.

Cases of child marriage are also not taken seriously sometimes. Young girls are being raped and their families give them the option to marry as a solution. Is rape a cause for child marriage? Where is family support when this happens? Law enforcement agencies sometimes label the girl(s) as the cause of what happened to her when she reports the matter. These marriages lead to abrupt transitioning in the girls’ lives into adult roles which they are not prepared for and no one gives thought to the trauma of child marriage these girls face.

Though many countries in Africa now have legislation against child marriage and even though there have been collective efforts around the world to fight child marriage it is still unfortunately happening thus we cannot afford to stop talking about it. Ending child-marriage is the right and smart thing to do. It is our individual and collective responsibility to make sure that we protect our girls. Let us give our girls the opportunity to go to school, live their childhoods to the fullest without violence, choose careers for themselves, whom to marry and when. Let us invest in good parent-child relationships as they are key in bridging the gap on realities of marriage and the fight against child marriage. This is everyone’s fight. Do not wait until it happens to a girl in your household for you to receive a wakeup call of the gravity of this cancer.  If you see child-marriage happening in your community, do something about it. Do not be silent. ACT! You and I make change happen. Let us give our girls a chance and an opportunity to be what and whom they want to be. They are the leaders of tomorrow.

Today, #choosetochallenge child marriage.

This story was submitted in response to #HerStoryMakesHistory.

Comments 39

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Busayo Obisakin
Mar 20
Mar 20

Dear Charlene
I want to appreciate your effort and the great job you are doing in combating gender based violence in your community. Yes you are right we must not keep quiet, we will continue to raise our voices against these vices until it comes to an end in our society. Thank you for sharing this story with us
Love
Busayo

charlenegailtaruwona

Thank you Busayo and its my pleasure. We shall surely triumph.

Fanka
Mar 20
Mar 20

Hello Charlene,
I wish to congratulate you for taking a step to fight againts child marriage in your community. Our girls needs to be empowered on the consequences of child marriage.

charlenegailtaruwona

Hello Fanka. Thank you. You are very right and parents and guardians need not be left behind as well.

Leonida Odongo
Mar 21
Mar 21

Dear Charlene,

Continue being an ambassador of hope.More energy !

Best

Leonida

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Leonida,
Thank you.

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 22
Mar 22

Dear Charlene,
What a powerful statement, laying out the truth of child marriage as a cancer that needs to be eliminated. It is so good to read your strong words, calling it as it is, a cancer, a denial of basic human rights, rights to freedom of choice for what we do with our lives as girls and women, rights to no violence and to be protected, not blamed by courts, rights to lives with no violence. Men continue to be told that they have the right to dominate. This teaching generation to generation needs to end, and it is through voices like yours that change happens. This photo says much. The pain and betray shows on the faces of these young girls as well as their beautiful spirits shining through, belief in themselves. How great for them to meet you. All the very best with your work. May we all continue to speak out for freedom for all of the girls.

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Tam,
Thank you so much. I felt a deep pain in my heart as I was writing this story. I put myself in those girl's shoes and I told myself that it is not fair. I vow to fight child-marriage. Yes, we join the team of many other voices across the world fighting for the freedom of all girls.

Jill Langhus
Mar 22
Mar 22

Hello Charlene, Dear,

Welcome back! Thanks for sharing your passionate post, and work. Keep up the great work, dear!

Looking forward to seeing more updates from you.

XX

charlenegailtaruwona

Hello Jill,
Thank you very much. Yes you can watch the space.

Jill Langhus
Mar 22
Mar 22

You're welcome, dear. Will do!

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 22
Mar 22

Dear Charlenegail, greetings!
What a good read to challenge this evil that is rampant in Africa and in many parts of the world. The evil ignorance is rooted in too many cultures and is a global silent pandemic that needs to be eradicated NOW!
I work for my Nonprofit and we educate on many things such as Female genital cutting alongside this topic as well.
Today in the 21st century no woman, mother, father or parent should ever allow this cruel act and tradition. It is all of our obligation to educate and stop this and protect our girls.
Keep up the fight, #istandwithyou !
Mama Queen
queenshebavillage.org

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Queen Sheba,
Thank you very much. Your pledge over joys me. We will get there. I also work for a Nonprofit and we champion the family unit and community in order to address and fight these social evils. I would love to know more about what you do as an organization and maybe we can collaborate in some instances. Please inbox me here on world pulse or on [email protected] .

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 24
Mar 24

Dear Charlene, just sent a email to [email protected].
Thanks and have a blessed day!

charlenegailtaruwona

Thank you Queen Sheba. Lets connect.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 25
Mar 25

Noted! Thank you my dear Charlene.

valem
Mar 22
Mar 22

Hello sister Charlene,
I am so happy with the efforts you are making for your community it is certainly a lasting mark God bless you very much.

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Valem,
Thank you very much my sister.

Dianamond Abimbola
Mar 23
Mar 23

Good job Charlene!

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Dianamond,
Thank you very much my sister.

LSpeaksLife
Mar 24
Mar 24

Thank you for raising your voice on behalf of girls across Africa. Your seeds will reap great rewards, where girls choose the life they want to live. You are not alone!

Hugs & Love,
LaMeisha
Richmond, VA

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear LaMeisha.
Thank you very much.

justbail
Mar 25
Mar 25

Thank you for sharing this story. Your stress on the importance of having a voice is well heard. Can you give us some action items to help from afar? I wonder how I can help you. You have helped me learn about this dangerous cycle of oppression and harm.

Tash Blackman
Mar 25
Mar 25

Thanks for sharing your story. Your comment "strong family units generate wholesome children" really resonates with me and your #choosetochallenge is empowering - to encourage all children to be seen and to be heard, to challenge the traditions and speak up when something is not right or "not our business".

charlenegailtaruwona

Thank you my sister. I am happy to know that my story has impacted you. Together we can bring about the change we want to see.

ChristinaGanta
Mar 25
Mar 25

Dear Charlene,

God bless you for your amazing work!! More power to you.

Love,
Christina

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Christina,
Thank you very much.

ARREY- ECHI
Mar 26
Mar 26

Hello Charlene,
This is a beautiful and timely reminder, especially with COVID and the fact that many girls have been hurriedly married off. It is indeed a cancer eating up our various societies and therefore needs our collective and united efforts to fight it. Thank you for this piece of what you #ChooseToChallenge. A worthy challenge indeed with far reaching positive outcomes when girls are left to be girls and be encouraged to pursue their dreams.
I hope you are well and look forward to more posts from you.

charlenegailtaruwona

Hello my sister.
Thank you very much. We shall surely get there and yes you shall be reading more of my stores.

Kat Haber
Mar 26
Mar 26

Bravo for you! Girls deserve a childhood free of pressure to be partnered with an older male. Please search out Nasreen Sheikh, who did this TEDxTalk in 2018 on surviving child marriage by leaving her community. She has since begun a local women handicraft collective that has made masks in the pandemic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjrxGZTDsWw&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rOh0fnCIxd6p...

I love that you are standing up, speaking up, and taking action. Check out also Dr. Sam Collins in LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drsamcollins/

Stand free, strong, and not silent!

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Kat,
I appreciate that my story has impacted on you.
Thank you very much for the resources. I am on them.

Rahel Randy
Mar 28
Mar 28

Congratulations darling sister you are doing amazing.

charlenegailtaruwona

thank you my sister

hanae
Apr 10
Apr 10

Thanks charlene for sharing
Coming from Morocco, I join you in this fight
we are in 2021, and Child marriage still exists in africa and other parts of the world especially in rural world...carrying all the bad consequences on young girls.
A lot of work need to be done in order to allow girls to study and live their lives as supposed to be. Raising awareness within communities is one of the main keys to start the change.
Keep fighting dear
cheers

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Hanse,
Thank you very much. Yes the we continue in this fight against GBV.we will truly get there.

jfaria
Apr 23
Apr 23

Thank you for fighting this nasty battle against child marriage. This should be always seen as unacceptable and as you mentioned, something to be once and for all eliminated from our society.
Children deserve to be safe, have a home and access to education - not marriage.

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear jfaria,
You are right. Let us keep fighting for our girls. We are their hope.

itsjessde
Apr 29
Apr 29

Thank you for challenging such an archaic ideal and bringing awareness to it. Hopefully this platform can bring more support to the cause.

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear itsjessde,
Thank you. This platform is a start.we will surely get there