How to end child marriages in Africa?

A delegation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy will participate in a workshop organised by the African Union for religious and traditional leaders and parliamentarians seeking to end child marriage in Africa.

The workshop, to be held from 13th-16th September at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, is expected to provide an understanding of child marriage and other harmful traditional practices, focusing on the role of religious and traditional leaders as important agents of change in ending child marriage in Africa, the OIC said on Sunday.

At the workshop, Dr Ahmed Abdulaleem, of OIC’s International Islamic Fiqh Academy, will present a study, entitled “Ending Child Marriage from an Islamic Perspective.”

A recent study by OIC’s Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries indicates that marriage before age 18 may lead to serious health problems for men and women who are not yet ready for marriage.

The report, entitled “The State of Children in OIC Member Countries” and published in June 2015, noted, “Poverty, protection of girls, family honour and providing stability during unstable social periods, are some of the main driving factors behind child marriage.”

The OIC, through its Department of Culture, Social and Family Affairs, places an important emphasis on issues of children’s rights and welfare, and the organization has issued several recommendations on protecting children to member states during summits and conferences of its leaders and senior government officials. Suzan Mohamed, from the Department of Culture, Social and Family Affairs, will represent the OIC at the workshop.

The declarations of the Islamic Ministerial Conference on the Child in Rabat 2005, Khartoum 2009, Tripoli 2011 and Baku 2013 called for an end to harmful traditional practices against children in OIC member countries.