Child marriage rates are down in Afghanistan, but the issue continues to require policy support, says UNICEF.
The rate of child marriages in the nation fell by 10% in the last decade, the organization noted in a joint study released on Sunday. But the practice remains a challenge culturally, reported The New Indian Express.
Take Action: Sign This Petition to #LeveltheLaw and Empower Girls and Women Around the World
"Child marriage is slightly declining in Afghanistan, and we commend the relentless efforts of the government to reduce this practice and their strong commitment to child rights," Adele Khodr, UNICEF representative in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
"Yet, further consolidated action is needed by the different actors in society to put an end to this practice and reach the goal of ending child marriage by 2030.”
Convincing parents to send their daughters to school was key in reducing child marriage, noted the report, which stated that in 78% of cases, the father of the bride makes the decisions regarding her marriage.
"Ending child marriage will break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and will give girls and women opportunities to engage and participate fully in their society," Khodr stated.
Read More: The Very Important Reason Malaysians Are Saying #StudentNotSpouse
A combination of mixed methods research was conducted over five provinces across Afghanistan — Bamyan, Kandahar, Paktia, Ghor, and Badghis — to compile the report, noted Relief Web. The study included urban, semi-urban, and rural sampling locations, and utilized household surveys, case studies, focus groups, and interviews.
Changing the narrative around child marriage in #Afghanistan is key to protecting the rights and well-being of girls @UNICEF#GirlsNotBrides#EndChildMarriagehttps://t.co/9ORwtCSpqmpic.twitter.com/LpOBRNCcpy— ReliefWeb (@reliefweb) July 30, 2018
Current national law in Afghanistan treats boys and girls differently, noted Relief Web, with the age of marriage at 16 for girls, and for boys, 18.
But child marriages among young boys are not uncommon either, and research indicates that economics are a driving factor for both.
Young men and their families are compelled to meet the demands of high bride prices, noted Relief Web. But husbands who marry so young are often ill-prepared to provide for their new family or comprehend their partner’s needs.
Read More: Married at 3, Divorced at 7: Two Ethiopian Girls Share Their Story
Meanwhile, a strict adherence to gender roles contributes to the devaluing of young Afghan girls as individuals and limits their economic potential to domestic labor for their husband’s household, as opposed to economic agents themselves, according to the report.
The study recommended “complementary, wide-ranging solutions that address not only policy, law, economic challenges, social and cultural norms of gender inequality, harmful traditional practices, and insecurity,” reported Relief Web, “but that will also work with girls and boys, parents and children, frontline workers, and key influencers.”