Underage marriage (girls marriage) is a threat to Sudanese society

At a time when the world talks about the role of Sudanese women and their leadership of the popular movement and the demands of Sudanese women to represent them by 50% in the legislative councils, remote areas in Sudan witness the most brutal types of violations against girls who get married before reaching the legal age.
In “Abu Jaili” area, in the eastern countryside of Sennar, a 16-year-old girl has been married after she left school in grade 8, however, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to “Darfur 24”, the marriage took place despite the rejection of the marriage officer who refused to issue a marriage certificate. The marriage office said, such a behavior, is violation to the law, stressing that marriage certificate would not be issued unless the girl reaches the legal age for marriage.
The marriage offcer Pointing out that, in the event that he issues marriage certificate in such circumstance, he would be brought to trial and might be stripped of practicing his profession.

The role of religion..
A religious scholar in the area ,named Ibrahim Abdullah, told (Darfur 24) that the child’s marriage was correct because the religion stipulated publicity, adding that her husband did not violate the religion of Islam, but he followed the example of the Prophet, Mohamed, may God bless him and grant him peace, adding that the prophet married Aisha, may God be pleased with her, when she was only ten.
For her part, a teacher at the Abu Jaili School told (Darfur 24) that during this year, four pupils (girls) of grade 8 from her school have been married, the teacher added that all these girls were suppose to sit for basic school exams this year.
The basic school teacher made it clear that she was a class supervisor last year and noticed a desire for female students in early marriage, even though she had conducted a discussion with them about the danger of marriage for minors and familiarized them with the importance of continuing education at this age.
She added that, they always disagree with her on this issue, and tell her that marriage is the fate of any girl. However, she said they go on telling her that, the society believe that the success of a girl lies on her early marriage, adding that the girls told her, if a woman exceeds the age of 24, then she would be looked at as spinster.
In an opinion poll conducted by “Darfur 24” with some young people , they believe that marrying a young girl guarantees that a wife does not have a prevous affair with anyone else, a matter that enables them to control the behavior of their wives in the future.

The Laws and awareness raising
Political activist al-Tayyeb Abdullah said, “Educating the state about the dangers of child marriage is stipulated in the rights of the child in Sudan’s constitution, saying that society is lacking proper awareness and education in that respect. Adding that even civil society organizations’ work is confined to big cities and is not covering the entire Sudan.”
Al-Tayeb added that the prevailing customs and traditions in society are stronger than all laws and must be corrected through educating and raising awareness in educational and media institutions as well as civil society organizations.
While the human rights activist Atef Bahr, attributed the roots of the problem of child marriage to the unfair division of the house resources between males and females within the framework of the family, adding that, “For example, males to defend and meet family demands and women to take care of children and carry out household tasks. Altayeb said , although this division of tasks began to change in the sixties and seventies, but these habits still exist in rural areas more than the urban ones.
Mr. Atef Bahr attributed the practices that exist today to the weak work of human rights organizations that concerned with child’s issues. Saying that, child marriage prevents children from education that contributes to a proper building a family, adding that, when we talk about underage marriage, we must bear in mind that early marriage deprives the girl of her right to education, play and practice various activities, but international organizations have only adopted child marriage as extreme form of sexual violence ignoring the other factors.
Atef called on civil society organizations to change the strategy of dealing with awareness raising from its traditional methods to new methods such as intergenerational dialogue, community dialogue and interactive theater.
A member of the “No to Violence against Women” initiative, Amira Othman, agreed with Atef Bahr about the reasons for the marriage of girls due to lack of education, economic conditions, the role of customs and community traditions. However, Amira criticized the personal status law in the Sudanese constitution, which does not criminalize the guardian in marrying a child and not including a penalty for that. She added, “It did not include an explicit provision to prevent child marriage.
Amira Othman called for amending the Personal Status Law and for Sudan to ratify the CEDAW Agreement. She added, “There is one organization that has a proposal for changing the name of Personal Status Law to the Family Law.

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