Tradition Hurdles Early Marriage Eradication Effort

By Tsegay Hagos


Despite improvements due to the extensive intervention of governmental and non-governmental bodies, early marriage is still source of various socio-economic evils across Ethiopia.

The huge investment in health and education sectors has brought about positive changes in reducing maternal mortality, while increasing girls’ school enrollment nation-wide. However, punctures originating from low level social awareness seem to give the evils a chance to regenerate.

A recent Gender Research Seminar (GRS) which Addis Ababa University (AAU) gave jointly with Ministry of Women and Children on Prevalence and Causes of Child Marriage hinted that early marriage is still practiced in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples States. And the research recommended that pertinent bodies need to tighten their belts to plan and execute wide-ranging activities to raise societal awareness.

Guday Emirie is Social and Cultural Anthropology Assistant Professor with AAU involved in conducting the research. She pointed out that gender-specific socialization, pressure to conform social norms, parent’s crave to continue family line, poverty and social stigmatization of women are the main factors for the prevalence.

The social pressure is debilitating modern and traditional organizations that are supposed to curb the problem. “Activists, peasant association leaders, government institutions, schools and other concerned bodies are bent towards conforming the social norm,” the research found out.

Thus, ample works should be carried out to aware the society and gear them to abhor the practice. Enacting laws could be a good instrument, but enforcing them cannot go effective without developing society’s awareness.

Young Lives Foundation Country Director Dr. Alula Pankhurst, who also participated in the research, for his part said: “As early marriage is the main cause of infant and maternal mortality, a lot should be done to modify traditions which support the practice.”

Many Ethiopian women have been vulnerable to fistula and other health setbacks due to early marriage, Dr. Alula asserted.


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