KAMPALA. East Africa child rights activists have agreed to form a coalition that would among other things compel governments in respective member countries to implement ratifications on ending child marriages.
Speaking at a conference to end child marriage in Kampala, activists said there are several treaties on protecting children rights that have been ratified by East Africa member states but implementation has stalled.
Renowned Kenyan lawyer and rights advocate, Ms Carole Ageng’o said it was time to make government across the region implement all the treaties they endorsed because child marriages have remained rampant and little has been done to address the contributing factors.
“Most of EA countries have signed international, continental and regional pacts to end child marriages but all this has stopped at ratification and nothing much has been done to implement what they ratified. It is now our role to have a regional voice as child rights advocates to make these governments do the needful to end child marriages,” she said.
Ms Ageng’o said a coalition will not only enable them engage EA legislative assembly but they will petition parliaments of members countries including rallying voters to make them announce their plans on ending child marriages.
“The leaders come from our communities and we voters have powers to make them stand for issues affecting us. Now child marriage is an issue that needs to be fought jointly and we shall involve voters to demand MPs address all matters affecting children rights,” she added.
Mr Jean Paul Murunga, programme officer for Equality Now, an NGO fighting for human rights said the prospect of this coalition is to address issues violating child rights at regional level. “We want to have a memorandum. Why should you ratify treaties you cannot implement? Most of EA have ratified issues on ending child marriages but they have not been implemented. It is time we made them practice what they endorsed,” he said.
Citing an example of orphans who suffered for more than a decade yet their fallen father had left more than Ksh30m in a bank, Ms Ageng’o urged couples to always share bank and savings details to each other. “Some children suffer to the extent of dropping out of school yet their parents left some good money in banks. Married people should be open to each other on their financial statuses,” she said.
The conference was attended by child rights advocates from among other countries Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. UFPA studies have shown child marriages and teenage pregnancies stand at 25 percent.