12 April 2018

Somalia: Drought Triggers Forced Marriage of Children

Mogadishu — THE prolonged drought ravaging Somalia is reportedly worsening the prevalence of sexual abuse of minors forced child marriages in the East African country.

Research by children's rights groups suggested some girls had been forced to quit primary school and forcibly married.

Save the Children warned the devastating drought was threatening progress made towards stamping out some of the worst forms of abuse against girls in Somalia, particularly in the southern regions.

After an unprecedented four consecutive failed rains in Somalia, and despite a global decline in child marriage, repeated cases of forced child marriage as a result of the drought were rising, it warned.

Research by the organisation found that 51 teenage girls- out of 1,104 households - had been married off because of the way in which the drought was impacting their families.

Moderate to severe hunger was also evident in most of the eleven districts included in the assessment, while 10 percent of families interviewed reported that one of their girls has been sexually assaulted.

Save the Children thus fully supported the Sexual Offences Bill and progress made by government to protect women and girls from all forms of sexual violence.

"With the worst drought in living memory and the ongoing conflict driving cracks through the economy and the fabric of society, never has this legislation been more important," said Timothy Bishop, Save the Children's Country Director.

Human rights groups are campaigning for the government to set the minimum age of marriage at 18.

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