7 August, Pretoria:- South Africa recorded 207 child marriages in 2021, Statistics South Africa revealed to the African Union special rapporteur who is currently in the country to monitor and evaluate progress on how South Africa is performing in its campaign to end child marriages.
Dr Seble Worku, Stats SA’s Director: Education and Child Statistics shared that of the 207 recorded child marriages, 188 were brides and 19 were grooms.
She further revealed that 37 of the child marriages were registered as civil marriages and 19 were customary.
While Dr Worku showed an improvement in children living in low income households at 2.6 million with 4,0 million in high income households, pensions and grants were still the highest source of income for children in rural areas.
She revealed that the number of children who lived with only their mothers continued to rise in the country while number of orphaned children declined to 11.5 % in 2021 from 14.3 % in 2002.
The host, Honourable Takam Kembo, of Cameroon, the Special Rapporteur and Social and Health envoy from the African Union Commission are on a mission to conduct a monitoring visit on the progress that South Africa has made to end child marriages and harmful cultural practices against children.
The mission started its series of high-level engagements with the departments of social development, basic education, home affairs, women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Tomorrow the delegation will engage human rights institutions, Civil Society Organisations and conclude with a session with children.
These engagements will focus on child rights to capture current progress, challenges, best practices, lessons learned and make recommendations for fast-tracking progress to end violence against women and children.
This monitoring visit comes before the country launches its Women’s month program in Khayelitsha on August 9. This year’s theme is: “Accelerating socio-economic opportunities for women’s empowerement”.
Furthermore, this visit is part of a series of visits that the AU Commission is expected to conclude around the region ahead of the upcoming 4th African Girls Summit in November this year.
They will go Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Madagascar, Tunisia, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Seychelles, and Namibia.
This continental perspective will allow them to understand successful strategies and practices in different regions of Africa so that countries can learn from one another.
In 2014, the then Chairperson of African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma launched the campaign to end child marriages in the African continent.
At the time, the AU Commission, estimated that about 14 million adoscelent and teen girls were married. To date, more than thirty Member States have responded by accelerating the implementation of ending child marriage programmes and interventions.
The AU Commission team expressed gratitude for South Africa's hospitality and willingness to share insights into their legislative framework and efforts to protect children.
Honourable Kembo said: “the AU mission aims to understand how South Africa is working to protect its children. It focuses on examining the child protection system, its effectiveness, and how it addresses various forms of violence such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and online exploitation and abuse."
The monitoring mission will evaluate policies and strategies that the country has in place to end various forms of harmful cultural practices against children.
Honourable Kembo noted variations in terms of geographical patterns, provinces with high and low prevalence indicating a need for alignment of strategic interventions to the local context.
The Special Rapporteur is expected to produce a detailed progress report with observations and recommendations for the country within six months.
The African Union Stakeholder Engagement Mission on Child Marriages and Harmful Practices in South Africa continues tomorrow.
Members of the media are invited to cover the engagements organised as follows:
Date: Tuesday, 08 August 2023
Venue: Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, Gauteng
PART TWO – COMMISSION FOR GENDER EQUALITY
Date: Tuesday, 08 August 2023
Venue: 2 Kotze Street, Braamfontein, Commission for Gender Equality in Johannesburg,
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT