KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi, has called on the South African youth formations to lead extensive campaigns against underage forced marriages which have disastrous impact on their education, health and emotional well-being.
Speaking during the Youth Parliament sitting in Greytown today, MEC Thusi said she was extremely concerned that girls under the age of 18 continued to be abducted and forced into marriages in violation of their constitutional rights and the South African laws.
“Our government has done a sterling job in terms of protecting women against any form of abuse or violation of their rights. We have enacted laws to protect women because we do not want their constitutional rights to be violated as it used to happen in the past. Youth formations have to play their role by ensuring not even a single young woman is abducted and forced into a marriage. They should do this by teaching our young people about the dangers of forced marriages, their rights and by ensuring that they stop forced marriages by reporting them to the police or the Department of Social Development,” added MEC Thusi.
Government was also extremely concerned that there were some parents who condoned forced marriages.
“Some parents accept bribes in the form of livestock and money as compensation for rape and forced marriages. South African law is very clear. Forced marriage of a child under the age of 18 and marriage of a woman over 18 without consent are both prohibited by law. We need our communities to report any violations of these laws so that our law enforcement agencies can act,” said MEC Thusi.
Forced marriages had far reaching implications on young women, she said. “When young girls are forced to enter into marriages, they are forced to leave schools as their role becomes that of carrying out domestic work and bearing children. We cannot allow that to happen.”
She called on girls who experienced abuse to visit Social Development offices for professional counselling and advice. “Our social workers are available to provide counselling and we call on our communities to utilise these free services so that we can create a society which is safe and secure for women and children.”
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