In its mission to protect children, World Vision is relentlessly advocating for an end to violence against children in collaboration with Government and other partners. As part of its campaign "It Takes a World to End Violence Against Children'' launched in Niger in 2016, World Vision is working with the Mediator of the Republic of Niger for the harmonisation of legal texts on the protection of young girls through regional and universal texts ratified by Niger.
Persons in attendance at a workshop organised to mark the collaboration were representatives from various Ministries, USAID, actors intervening in fighting violence against women and children in Niger, and religious and traditional leaders. Launched at the ‘’Palais des Congrès” of Niger, this two-day workshop was held from August 24th to 25th.
“I met a smart little girl who was in primary school with a mark of 9/10. Her family wanted to marry her to a man who could have been old enough to be her grandfather. When I heard the story I went to see her parents and I had to face the anger of her father who exclaimed that she was his daughter and he could do what he wants with her. So, i went to the community police station to report the parents. The marriage was cancelled and the happy child was able to continue her studies and enjoy her childhood" narrated the Canton Chief of Dessa, in Tillabéry Region.
Child marriage is a widespread phenomenon in different parts of the world, but Niger has the highest rate in the world with an average of 37%. This unfortunate phenomenon varies depending on the region, varying from rural to urban areas. This workshop, hence, brought together various stakeholders concerned by the worrying trend to think about the protection of the girl in school, and in general.
"In Niger the most affected regions by child marriage are respectively Diffa - where the percentage is 89%-, in Zinder where it is 88%, and in Maradi 87%. And this practice has health, economic, social and cultural consequences; that's why we must do everything to lead a crusade against this plague." said the Mediator of the Republic of Niger in his speech.
Child marriage may be rooted in tradition, but it is a practice that the Government was keen to reverse even before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Niger's President, Hon. Mahamadou Issoufou denounced it as pedophilia.
The Mediator Hon. Ali Sirfi Maiga –a lawyer himself who fervently fights against child marriage– noted that it is unfortunate that so many parents prefer to see their daughter in an unhappy marriage rather than having a baby born out of wedlock. Thankfully, there was been a change since more actors like World Vision intensified efforts to curb violence in collaboration with Government. "Before, people did not dare to talk about child marriage, but now people can talk about it freely. Attitudes are starting to change and girls are fighting too, "he said.
World Vision in collaboration with various stakeholders, is determined to reduce the marriage of children (girls and boys) under the age of 18 in its development programmes. At the event, World Vision's National Director for Niger, Yves Habumugisha, noted: “It is undeniable that efforts have been made to create conditions for the well-being of children in Niger; but it is also true that significant challenges still lie ahead."
Legislative proposals were made during this workshop in order to harmonise Nigerian legal texts with universal regional instruments. Advocacy actions will also be carried out for the same purpose.
Click here to learn more about how we're collaborating with the Government of Niger to ensure that children are protected and cared for even in the midst of the pandemic.