A Man Who Marries Or Impregnates A Child In Tanzania Will Now Face 30 Years In Prison

Tanzania has just taken a huge step toward eliminating child marriage. Now, a man who marries or impregnates a school-age girl faces up to 30 years in prison.

Sex with underage girls was already a criminal offense, but previously girls as young as 14 could be married if her parents or a court approved. ” Unfortunately, loopholes still remain and girls can still get married off at 15 with parental consent or at 14 under court order if special circumstances exist. These loopholes significantly weaken the new law.

However, this latest effort signals that the government is heading in the right direction and may remove these contradictions in the future. It also follows on the heels of the government expanding free primary and secondary education for all children, with a special emphasis on girls.

The latest attempt to tackle child marriage is being framed as a complement to that policy — keeping young girls from getting married means they’ll actually be able to take advantage of that free education. To maximize attendance, the government intends to punish parents who fail to keep their kids in school.

15 million girls are married off as children every year around the world. Tanzania has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, with 21 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 having given birth. But the country has also shown a willingness to tackle this issue head-on. Situating the problem within the context of education is also an ingenious way to both acknowledge and cut through the web of barriers that oppress girls and limit their potential. Read the full story here.