Child rights

Monday, 4 June 2018

What Do We Gain or Lose by Entering into a Child Marriage

She has now become a woman, someone’s slave. She will have to become a mother. She will have to be obedient to her husband and she will be busy with housework. She got a husband she has never even taught about. She got a new, different life she has never dreamed about. 

In May 2018, Praxis held four workshops with more than eighty girls attending 7th and 8th grades in Primary School “Jovan Cvijić“ in Kostolac, Primary School “Bosko Palkovljevic Pinki“, Primary School “Sutjeska“ in Belgrade and Primary School “Aleksandar Stojanovic – Leso“ in Novi Pazar on the prevention and elimination of child, early and forced marriages and early drop-out of Roma girls from school. The workshops were held as part of the activities performed within the project “Legal Assistance to Persons at Risk of Statelessness in Serbia”, funded by UNHCR.

The workshops are the continuation of the activities performed last year when we jointly confirmed the presence of child, early and forced marriages through the discussion about their causes and consequences, as well as about the reasons why children leave school and about marital roles of men and women. In addition to these workshops, this year Praxis will hold eight more with children attending 5th and 6th grade under the slogan We Asked Children: “Why Do Some Children Leave School, What Are Marital Obligations and Why Shall We Say “STOP to Child Marriages.”

What Do We Gain or Lose by Entering into a Child Marriage is the question we dealt with at the workshops held this year. At the very beginning, the girls watched the UNICEF film "A storybook wedding – except for one thing” about the wedding of a 14-year old girl and a 35-year old man. During the film, the girls reacted with sighs, exclamations of shock and surprises. "She is still a child, maybe her parents forced her to do it for money, how sad she is, she still wants to be a child - she is playing with a teddy bear, how scared she is, he is big and she is small". During the discussion that followed, the girls tried to imagine what the girl's day after the wedding looked like. "She will wake up, he will take coffee for his husband; he will prepare his breakfast; she must now work at home to listen to her husband; he is greater than he can, and he can be beaten; no one is happy here, everyone is sad, everyone cries; maybe they had to get married ... ". In the second part of the workshop, the girls noted down what is gained and what is lost in a child’s marriage. According to the girls, a child marriage brings obligations, housework, mother-in-law, stress, a new family, limitation of movement, discomfort, denied voting rights, the obligation to give birth to children, a feeling of belonging to someone. On the other hand, girls say that a child deprives them of childhood, freedom, the right to education, innocence, education, time for themselves, time for playing and socializing with friends, but also of their own “me”, dreams, dreams, imagination and carelessness.

At the end of the workshop, the girls watched the film “I’m a Roma Woman”, which presents testimonies of Roma women who finished schools and achieved their life goals. The film inspired them positively and empowered them once again to continue their schooling.

The workshops significantly contributed to empowerment of girls to continue their schooling and resist child marriages.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action