Bongosso is a village in the commune of Koroma in the programme area of Koloni. In this village, respect for tradition has created serious problems regarding the rights of children, especially girls. Several of them are pulled out of school every year to marry early. They are victims of a tradition in which marriage is done by “restitution’' or “exchange’’.
Children, particularly school age girls from about 13 years, are at constant risk of early marriage, a grave challenge in World Vision’s programme areas. This system is sometimes based on exchange between families as per tradition. For instance, a father promises his daughter in marriage if a family gives him a girl for marriage to either himself or his sons. Moreover, when children underperform in school, parents often pull them out of school to work on their family farms and trade.
To address these issues, the CGS (School Management Committee) from each commune in the programme area conducted parent sensitization on the negative impact of early marriage and children dropping out from school. The programme touched some 1,136 parents, including 216 women, amongst who was Tiemoko TRAORE. "My daughter Barakissa is16 years old, she is in grade 8. She is among the best pupils in her class. Before her birth, we chose her husband. In our tradition, when you take a wife, you should return one to her family.”
"My daughter, despite herself, had to promise my in-laws to respect this old tradition."
Tiemoko had to “refund” his in-laws with his daughter Barakissa. "My daughter, despite herself, had to promise my in-laws to respect this old tradition," says Tiemoko. After 8 years in school Barakissa was to stop her studies to join her husband as per tradition.
This situation seriously distressed her father who sought a solution to avoid giving his daughter away in marriage because Barakissa loves school.
Tiemoko took part in the meeting, organized by World Vision, focused on the negative impact of early marriage and children dropping out from school. "After several questions to fully understand the advantage of keeping girls in school, I decided from that day my daughter would not be forced into marriage," proclaimed Tiemoko.
Tiemoko, with the president of the school management committee, negotiated with his in-laws, who accepted that Barakissa continues her studies.
"I invite all parents to send the girls to school and allow them to complete their study in order to prepare them for a better future."
"I refused forced marriage because I want to continue my studies, after my studies I will have a husband of my choice,” said Barakissa, “I thank my father and mother who supported me in this fight. I'm sure that next year I will receive my fundamental studies diploma."
"With World Vision’s, my father and many other parents are out of an archaic mindset but many other girls my age are victims of forced marriage. I invite all parents to send the girls to school and allow them to complete their study in order to prepare them for a better future," Barakissa confidently added.