‘Ukuthwala condemns girls to a life of servitude and poverty’

It is “intolerable” that the practice of ukuthwala is being allowed to continue in a country with one of the “most progressive constitutions in the world”‚ The Salvation Army said on Monday.

The organisation said the cultural custom “was originally a practice that fulfilled many functions in the family”‚ but “now usually involves a girl‚ reported to be as young as nine or 10 years old‚ being married to men sometimes five times their age”.

“They are beaten if they object‚ and very often raped to prevent parents from initiating efforts to have the girl returned or to report the matter‚” it said in a statement.

This information‚ The Salvation Army said‚ was gleaned from a 2011 study called Culture and Human Rights: Challenging Cultural Excuses for Gender-Based Violence’study by Gender Across Borders.

Major Carin Holmes acknowledged that SA “does not appear to have the same levels of child marriage that countries such as Nigeria and Mozambique do”‚ but said “it is nevertheless not unknown for girl children…to be forced into marriage…particularly in rural areas”.

“South Africa enjoys one of the most progressive constitutions in the world‚ with numerous organisations that work to protect the rights of women and child‚” Holmes said.

“It is intolerable that ukuthwala being allowed to continue.

“We need to work harder to highlight the plight of these young child brides and bring pressure to bear to end this practice‚ which is another form of human trafficking.

“Girls who are subject to child marriages are usually not able to complete their education and therefore do not develop to their full potential. This condemns them to a life of servitude and poverty.”









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