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16 April 2009

Manto slams forced marriage

The practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into early marriage undermines children's rights, Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has said.

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The practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into early marriage undermines children's rights, Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said in Pretoria.

"Young girls have been abducted to marry older men in the Eastern Cape. They are expected to cook, wash, iron and get babies," she said at the release of a report on children in South Africa.

Criminals were hiding behind custom to abduct young girls, she said. "There is no such custom in Lusikisiki, we spoke to the traditional leadership, there is no such [thing]."

The government commissioned a study, which was led by the United Nations Children's fund, Unicef, to analyse the situation of children in South Africa between 2007 and 2008. The study covered progress made by government on child survival, protection and development over the years.

What the findings mean
The report identified problems with upholding constitutional rights, the African convention on the rights and welfare of the child as well as UN conventions on the rights of children.

This included the allocation of adequate resources, collaboration between government departments, the role of civil society, community participation as well as research on issues affecting children.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the findings of the study would help the country identify some of the areas which need improvement, to ensure that children in South Africa were protected and allowed to develop in a healthy environment. – (Sapa, April 2009)

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