Thousands of underage children in SA are married, Parliament hears

2018-07-04 17:58
Many children in SA are married. (iStock)

Many children in SA are married. (iStock)

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Almost 100 000 underage children in South Africa are married, the Commission for Gender Equality told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament on Wednesday.

In some instances, mothers along with uncles or other relatives of the 91 000 underage children had agreed on dowries for children as young as 14 years old, chairperson Lulama Nare said.

Legally, for marriages in which one of the partners is younger than 18, written consent is necessary to obtain a marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.

READ Suffer little children: The missing, the lost and the dead

In one instance, she said, a child ran away from her husband. When he returned from Gauteng, her family took her back to him.

Nare said most child abductions where children as young as 13 were kidnapped to marry older men occurred during the December holidays.

She said there was also no collaboration between organisations such as the commission and state authorities to deal with child abuse and rape.

Police stations are acting as mediators and social workers when crimes are reported to them, Nare said.

She also highlighted that it was not the role of the authorities to tell a victim to return to their family or call the elders to try and resolve it, as happened in many cases.

Many instances such as these end in death, she said.

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