Why do some children leave school, what are marital obligations, what is your future occupation and why should we say STOP to child marriages – are some of the questions we asked children of higher grades in four primary schools in Serbia (Primary School “Jovan Cvijic” in Kostolac, Primary School “Bosko Palkovljevic Pinkic, Primary School “Sutjeska” in Belgrade and Primary School “Aleksandar Stojanovic – Leso” in Novi Pazar).
Within the activities performed on the project “Legal Assistance to Persons at Risk of Statelessness in Serbia”, funded by UNHCR, during 2017 and 2018 we talked to more than 200 boys and girls about the importance of education, causes and consequences of school leaving, future professions, gender roles and marital obligations, causes and consequences of child marriages, and how important it is to prevent them.
Child marriages are a gross violation of the rights of children. They harm the mental and physical health of girls and expose them to the risk of statelessness, domestic violence and trafficking in human beings. The research shows that child marriages are one of the key reasons why Roma girls drop out of school, leaving them thus in the vicious circle of poverty and leading to their economic dependence. The practice indicates the lack of sensitivity among professionals and the presence of discriminatory attitudes and prejudices against Roma population.
Children say that child marriages need to be stopped because girls are immature to be mothers, they do not manage to finish schools, have no chance to find a job, and because they do not seize their youth.
In order to eradicate this serious social problem, a holistic and coordinated approach of relevant stakeholders, both on national and local levels, is a necessity. It is extremely important that a state has consistent laws which prescribe 18 years as the minimum age for marriage, because if the law does not recognize children as children, they cannot enjoy full protection. It is equally important to empower the children and respect their opinion, because they are one of the key drivers of change in the prevention and elimination of child marriages.
See what children say:
Choose Education, Say „NO“ to Child Marriage - Why Some Children Leave School
Choose Education, Say „NO“ to Child Marriage - Marital Obligations
Choose Education, Say „NO“ to Child Marriage - My Future Occupation
Choose Education, Say "NO" to Child Marriage - STOP to Child Marriage