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Young widows, tragic voices. Voices of girls 2: Africa.

Authors
  • Owen, M
Type
Published Article
Journal
People & the planet
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1998
Volume
7
Issue
3
Pages
28–28
Identifiers
PMID: 12321766
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The tragic consequences for young girls of becoming widows or being the daughters of widows have not yet been addressed. In Africa, girls are sometimes given in marriage to old men. When the girls are widowed while still young, their chances for remarriage are slim. The marriages of girl children continue unabated in Africa and may be on the increase because of the AIDS epidemic. Modern legislation that complies with marriage age obligations created by the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women simply creates statutory limits to marriage without parental consent and fails to regulate child marriages arranged by parents. Being the daughter of a widow is almost as bad as being a widow, because widows routinely withdraw their daughters from school to protect them from unwanted sexual approaches or marrying them off at a young age. Widows and their daughters are often considered chattel by male relatives who feel no compulsion to seek their consent before arranging marriages for them. Child widowhood is not addressed in the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women, but during the 1998 UN Commission on the Status of Women, the European Union countries agreed to pay special attention to widows. It is time for international agencies to begin to collect data on this issue.

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