PHOTO STORY- In Bonkulu, a small village about 30 kilometers from Bandundu city, young girls are caught early in marriage and pregnant before puberty. The Bonkulu Youth Association is mobilized through educational talks to end child marriages in Kwilu. Discover the report of our Photographer Gwenn Dubourthoumieu.
Informal educational talks as a weapon against child marriages
Today, Teddy and Chantal have committed themselves to endingearly pregnancies and child marriages in Kwilu . Nevertheless, the first time that the community mobilizers of the Youth Association of Bonkulu, a small village about thirty kilometres from Bandundu, in the Kwilu province, came to visit them, they rejected the idea of not marrying their daughter very young, arguing it was the custom and she would be teased if she turned 16 still a “spinster.”
« A child is not capable of taking care of a home »
« Convincing someone doesn’t happen overnight ! », explains Jean-Claude Kalimdu, 24 years old and member of the Youth Association of Bonkulu. “After three rounds of informal educational talks, Chantal promised us that she would think about it. It was only during our fourth meeting that she and her husband agreed to sign a formal commitment.” Even so, Chantal, married at 12 years old, greatly suffered during her first years of marriage. “My wife was too young for marriage. It was very complicated, there was a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of violence. For about seven years, I beat her. But I was also unhappy myself” now admits Teddy. “The discussions with the community mobilizers helped us realize that a child is not capable of taking care of a home, and that getting married too young fosters domestic violence. We do not want our children to suffer the same fate.”.
Mobilized youth change behaviours about child marriages in Kwilu
« Informal educational talks help to understand people’s real problems,” notes Jean-Claude, enthusiastically. “The CANACU NGO (Community of Friends of Nature and Culture) sometimes organizes theater performances with the support of the European Union, on issues related to gender equality, to marriage registration, and to child marriages in Kwilu. We pick up these themes. And even though these issues are real taboos in our village, in the intimate setting of the household, people confide in us more easily. They speak more freely, allowing problems to be solved.”
The youth of Bonkulu thus defuse many marital quarrels. They also contribute to the tangible change in behaviours. This year, 60 girls are enrolled in secondary school, compared to 20 last year. Even then, 15 had abandoned their education mid-year due to pregnancies.
Women and men, progressing together
Through the ‘’Men and women moving forward together ‘’ programme, UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children’s affairs, with funding from the European Union, wish to act on all types of gender based violence and their root causes.
Learn more about education in DRC
Photo: UNICEF RDC 2016 Dubourthoumieu
Translated from French by Lisa Berthelot
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu s’est intéressé à la photographie alors qu’il travaillait en Afrique pour des ONG humanitaires. Professionnel depuis avril 2010, son travail est régulièrement récompensé. Il travaille régulièrement pour UNICEF RDC en tant que consultant photographique.
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, his work is regularly rewarded. He's a photography consultant for UNICEF DRC.
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