Msichana Initiative and Global Shaper founder, Rebecca Gyumi, challenged Tanzania’s Marriage Act that permits child marriage and fought till it was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court.
Child marriages are often traced to diverse cultures and religion but sadly it is contained and backed by the constitution in some countries.
In Tanzania it took Rebecca Gyumi to avert that law that victimizes female children and robs them of that precious and sensitive stage of their lives.
Rebecca is an activist who fought alongside other professionals and activists to legally end child marriages in Tanzania.
Rebecca Gyumi said:
“How could we educate communities about refraining from harmful practices while the main piece of legislation that governs marital affairs in our country allowed children to be married? It was a huge contradiction, and one I was determined to fight.”
According to WEFORUM, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year. Tanzania is known to have one of the world’s highest child marriage prevalence rates. Report says that 2 out of 5 girls in Tanzania are married before they turn 18. They are married off as young as 14 and even younger.
A characteristic that is found with child-brides is poverty. Where there is little or a hopeless means of livelihood, education is far-fetched; thus, marriage becomes an option. At such tender ages and no education, these child-brides become victims of abuse and domestic violence.
Rebeccah Gyumi founded Msichana Initiative, a platform she uses in pushing her advocacy for girl child education and child marriage ban.
“We submitted a petition to challenge the validity of the Marriage Act – the act that meant girls could be married off at 14 – arguing that it was unconstitutional.”
Succeeding to make laws that banned child marriages also meant more work for Rebecca Gyumi.
“We are already working on projects to enhance the importance of education and the power it has in transforming girls’ lives.”
Another phase of empowering the girl child after the ban is ensuring accessible education for them. That way, the children can see more possibilities and opportunities that will improve their lives and communities.