Burundian girls still suffer the consequences of forced marriage especially when they are pregnant before adult age, say civil activists on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.
Following a study made by a local women's NGO fighting against malaria and HIV/AIDS-SFBLSP from July to September 2017 in the Bujumbura northern neighbourhoods, girls are still forced into marriage by their parents and families.
Esperance Ntirampeba, SFBLSP chairwoman, says girls still suffer from non-access to education, child marriage and other discriminatory challenges. " We conducted a small survey in July and the results revealed that around 27.5% of girls under 18 are forced into marriage while 6.8 % of girls under 15 suffer the consequences of early marriage"
David Ninganza, spokesman for Youth Solidarity for Peace and Childhood-SOJPAE, says early marriage in Burundi society is a threat to face. "More than 413 cases of forced marriage were recorded last year," he says.
Those activists say those cases of early marriage are mostly influenced by teenagers' unwanted pregnancies.
They appeal to the government to take serious measures to avoid such marriage as it harms the whole society.
Ntirampeba says the government should take appropriate laws to protect those girl children. "Parents who oblige their teenagers to get married should be seriously punished as well as adult people who are involved in the whole process", she says.
Ntirampeba reminds parents that single mothers especially when they are adolescents have the right to better treatment and education like others. "It is not because an adolescent is pregnant that she has to be abandoned. Parents should still treat her well and take care of her", she says.
The same view is shared by Ninganza. The Government should review some laws namely the law that stipulates that only pregnant mothers with marriage certificate should have access to free public healthcare. "Preventing them from having the same healthcare is unfair', he says.