In Mozambique, conservationists try to curb child marriage

In this photo taken Friday April 20, 2018 in the Gorongosa National Park, a Mozambican girl reads as part of a program that aims to help girls stay in school longer and stay out of child marriage, a longstanding problem in the southern African country. The program consists of about 50 girls' clubs set up by the managers of Gorongosa National Park, who believe that human development and conservation go hand in hand. (AP Photo/Christopher Torchia)

In Mozambique, conservationists at a key wildlife park try to curb child marriage

GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK, Mozambique — Girls take turns to read aloud under a tree in rural Mozambique, part of a project by Gorongosa National Park to educate them and keep them out of child marriage.

The club meetings operate in 50 schools on the edge of the park, whose managers believe helping communities is key to conservation. Many girls in the southern African nation are particularly vulnerable, marrying and giving birth in their teens.

"We try to make a safe place for them to be able to speak up," said Larissa Sousa, manager of the program for girls who also learn about health and family planning and take trips to see Gorongosa's wildlife. About 2,000 girls are participating.

It could take a generation to persuade communities to let girls stay longer in school rather than drop out, marry and give birth in line with old customs, Sousa said. The girls' clubs, which started two years ago, are gaining some acceptance after talks with local leaders and others, she said.

The emphasis on girls is part of a wider campaign to restore Gorongosa, led by a joint venture between a non-profit group founded by American philanthropist Greg Carr and the Mozambican government.

Much of Gorongosa's wildlife was wiped out during the nearly two-decade civil war that ended in 1992. The park is in an opposition area in central Mozambique, where political tensions led to sporadic clashes in the last few years.

Child marriage around the world has declined in past decades but progress has been slow, according to the U.N. children's agency. Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, UNICEF says.

Mozambican parents who give girls away in marriage benefit from a payment made by the bridegroom's family, and it also "removes a mouth to feed — an important consideration for families living below or only slightly above the poverty line," UNICEF said.

One aim of the Gorongosa clubs is to help the girls understand that, once armed with an education, they can seek the same kinds of opportunities as the boys. Some boys have been allowed to join in the club's activities.

The legal age of marriage in the southern African country is 18, though it can be 16 if parents give consent. Girls and young women are vulnerable to HIV infection, and many women are illiterate.

"Children shouldn't be having children. It's dangerous," Carr said. "When women are educated, all of society benefits."

___

Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris

Related News

Slain runner from NYC laid to rest in Massachusetts

Aug 16, 2016

A New York City woman killed while out running near her mother's Massachusetts home was remembered at her funeral Tuesday for the light she brought to the lives of everyone she touched

'American Horror Story' coming to Halloween Horror Nights

Aug 17, 2016

The ghosts, vampires and other freaky misfits from "American Horror Story" are coming to Universal Studios

Casino mogul Wynn readies lavish new Macau resort

Aug 17, 2016

Steve Wynn's Macau resort brims with auspicious Chinese symbolism, and the U.S. casino mogul will need luck on his side as launches his $4.2 billion Wynn Palace project in the gambling hub as growth downshifts

You may also like these

Casino mogul Wynn readies lavish new Macau resort

Aug 17, 2016

Steve Wynn's Macau resort brims with auspicious Chinese symbolism, and the U.S. casino mogul will need luck on his side as launches his $4.2 billion Wynn Palace project in the gambling hub as growth downshifts

Lava meets the sea, puts on fire-spitting show in Hawaii

Aug 18, 2016

For the first time in three years, lava from a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has reached the Pacific Ocean, where it's creating new land _ and a stunning show for visitors

Officials: Zika found in South Beach; spraying not practical

Aug 19, 2016

Florida officials say South Beach has been identified as a second site of Zika transmission by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland

Traveller SEA (South-East Asia) is for wanderlust looking for an adventure in the South-East Asia region and the rest of the world.

Contact us: sales@tvlseacom.com