On the International Day of the African Child, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls for an end to human rights violations against African girls.


On the International Day of the African Child, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls for an end to human rights violations against African girls


Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged African Union (AU) members to take immediate action to protect young girls and women on Thursday. The study was released on the African Union's African Child Day. Child marriage, free education for children, and letting pregnant girls and young women attend school are among HRW's concerns. "Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice Since 2013," is the subject for this year's African Child Day.

According to HRW, figures from Girls Not Brides demonstrate that child marriage is still prevalent, with the top three countries being Niger, the Central African Republic, and Chad, all of which are African Union member states. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the research notes a surge in both juvenile marriage and teenage pregnancy across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The African Union has responded to this issue by citing Article 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), which states: Child marriage and the betrothal of girls and boys shall be prohibited, and effective action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify the minimum age of marriage to be eighteen years and make registration of all marriages in an official registry compulsory. HRW claims that enforcement is "slow," citing Nigeria's high rates of child marriage.

HRW also expressed concern about pregnant girls and young women's capacity to attend school. Kenya, according to HRW, is an example of a member-state government that protects pregnant girls and young women's access to education but yet prohibits pregnant pupils from attending public school.

In a tweet on Thursday, the AU emphasised Article 11 of the ACRWC. ‘States Parties to the present Charter shall take all relevant steps to guarantee that children who get pregnant before finishing their education have the chance to continue their education on the basis of their individual capacity,’ the article states. HRW, on the other hand, stated the charter was unsuccessful in practice, citing Tanzania's elimination of a pregnant student ban but the continued prohibition on married students.

HRW concluded the report, stating:

The African Union should strengthen the request of African human rights authorities and push all of its member states to abolish child marriage, according to HRW. It should encourage governments to pass laws and policies encouraging ladies to continue in school and return to school after having a child in order to achieve academic success.

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