Traditional and religious leaders in West and Central Africa have moved to end child marriageand female genital mutilation and other harmful practices in the region. “Weagree to break our silence by condemning totally, and standing against any formof violence. We adopt zero tolerance to these modern forms of slavery, brutalcrimes and inhuman indignities on our women.” They declared after a four-daydialogue on ending child marriage and female genital mutilation and otherharmful practices, organised by UN Women on 4 – 7 December 2018 in Lagos.
In a declaration jointly presented by the Emir Of Shonga, HRH Dr Haliru Yahaya and the Secretary General, National Alliance Of Traditional Authorities Of Congo (DRC), His Majesty Mfumu Difima (ROI KONGO), the traditional rulers committed to recognising 18 as the age of marriage and directing all customary courts to consider marriage below 18 as a crime and enforce such decisions.
“We recommend that measures are initiated to blacklist the perpetrators, fight impunity in our communities and ensure access to justice, enforcement of the rule of law and punishment of perpetrators of this crime.” They added.
In her opening remarks, the UN Women Regional Director, Dr Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, said the UN would continue to provide all the technical support needed to end child marriage and female genital mutilation in Africa. She urged the traditional rulers to make definite pronouncement against child marriage and female genital mutilation as their voice could end these harmful practices.
Mr. Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Coordinator-Nigeria, in his address noted that Girls and Women across all African countries experience child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful cultural practices. Some of the implications of these practices include lack of access to education and sexual/reproductive health, unemployment and death.
He highlighted and commended the efforts of the UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF in their investment towards #EndingChildMarriage in Africa, while encouraging traditional and religious leaders to remain committed in supporting the UN and other stakeholders in order to end the menace around the world.
The UN InformationCentre (UNIC) Lagos provided communication support to the conference.