Thanks to the hard work and passion of MoMEC and Paralegal Centre Shinyanga (PACESHI), today’s launch of ‘Chozi La Binti Kibena’ (Tears of Kibena’s daughter) in Shinyanga was an enlightening and inspiring event.
The doors of PACESHI opened their doors to the general public, as well as to a number of dignified guests including the chairperson of Shinyanga NGO Networks, a representative of the Cultural Officer, chairperson of the Ward, Gender Desk Officer and Chief Inspector of the Shinyanga Police, and Managers from Exim Bank. The Guest of Honour was District Commissioner Josephine Matiro. The event was also given extensive media coverage, through the presence of journalists from Business Times Ltd., Channel Ten TV and Clouds FM.
Within Tanzania, the Shinyanga region has the highest prevalence of child marriage; 59% of girls are forced to marry before their 18th birthday. Evidence generated by our partners at Agape Aids Control Programme (AACP) in Shinyanga have shown that girl victims of child marriage are regularly abused, resulting in high rates of marital breakdown, which forces child wives and their children to return to her birth home. This places great economical strain on the girl’s family, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and forced child marriage amongst later generations. Therefore the launch of our educational movie about child marriage in Shinyanga held great significance and impact potential.
MoMEC is committed to eradicating the practice of forced child marriage through the provision of primary and secondary interventions; namely preventing this tradition through community awareness campaigns with our movies and through secondary prevention measures to educate girl victims. Education is vital, ensuring that girl victims of forced marriage become financially independent in order to break the cycle of poverty and future risk of child marriage amongst their offspring.
The launches programme included speeches from Dr Monica Magoke-Mhoja (MoMEC founder and director), Perpetua Magoke Mahudi and John Shija (PACESHI Co-ordinator and Assistant Co-ordinator respectively) who highlighted the implications of child marriage on both the victims themselves, and the long-term impact on the community at large. The speakers called on everyone present to join them in continuing their fight. District Commissioner Josephine Matiro followed this with her own impassioned speech, where she commended the work of MoMEC, PACESHI and AGAPE Aids Control Program and all NGOs who combat violence against women, and in particular child marriage. She appealed to parents and guardians present to stop this harmful practice and prioritise young girls’ education. The District Commissioner stated clearly that the government in Shinyanga are ready to work closely with all NGOs in this fight.
The audience also heard harrowing first-hand accounts from two child wives (currently supported by MOMEC in partnership with AACP). The girls recounted their harrowing stories of being forced into marriage at 13 years of age, their abuse, pregnancies and the hardships they endured when trying to leave their husbands. The girls called on the audience to stop this harmful tradition, and save other girls from a similar fate.
PACESHI’s drama group performed a short drama taking the audience through one girl’s harrowing tale of being forced into marriage. She is forced by her parents to leave school and marry an older man. The drama portrays the abuse she is subjected to and her plight to liberate herself and her two young children from the situation. This drama is regularly performed by PACESHI in small villages throughout Shinyanga to inform and empower communities to stand up against child marriage.
After clips of our movie were shown to the audience, Director Dennis Sweya called upon attendees to donate to MoMEC’s cause and purchase DVDs. Partial profits generated from the DVD sales directly support abused child wives and child widows to go back to education at the AACP School in Shinyanga. MoMEC aims to continue to expand the number of girls we support through ongoing DVD sales and charity donations.
MoMEC would like to sincerely thank all our attendees, as well as our partners at PACESHI for hosting such a successful occasion.