Early marriages in DRC having long been considered a blessing, today, our communities are starting to understand that these practices are nothing but anti values that must at all costs be eradicated. From this awareness comes a need to convince the families and the parents to adopt appropriate behaviors by detaching themselves from harmful sociocultural burdens that parents can experience by choosing to not marry their children too early. Thanks to sensitization missions of Enfants Reporters, the message is becoming more and more understood and the story of Yalulu is very probative.
Early marriages in DRC, an infringement of the rights of many adolescents
« My name is Yalulu, I am 17 years old and I am the second child in our family. I live in Kalemie. In my life, people say that I have behaved badly since my infancy. I felt guilty because I became pregnant twice; the first time at the age of 13. I almost died at the general referral hospital of Kalemie where I spent more than a week due to childbirth complications. I gave birth to a stillborn.
My second pregnancy occured at the age of 15. My father did not want me at home anymore and he found the opportunity to claim, despite the advice of his half brothers, the dowry paid by my tormentor.
I felt abandoned and rejected by my family because the man who made me pregnant was 45 years old, the approximate age of my father. I saw myself as shameful and humiliating as a child girl through the eyes of my colleagues and friends. My mother wished that after the childbirth, I return home; but my father did not see it that way. For him, I was an adult because I now had a husband and a child.
Young Reporters, promoters of the rights of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo
It would be good that at this place the story return to the Young Reporter.
I heard about Young Reporters and they came to converse with my parents to explain to them their duties but also my rights. On four occasions, the Young Reporters listened to my parents, and above all my father who, finally, came to be persuaded that children have rights, above all expression. The same exchange took place with the supposed husband who hunted them at every contact. Without giving up, the two Enfants Reporters spoke with him about the Convention on children’s rights. Marry or to marry one’s daughter at 16 years old is one of the forms of violence of children’s rights the most combatted; it’s an act that deserves an arrest; and those responsible must be brought to justice.»
The father and the husband of Yalulu eventually agreed to provide her with formal education to prepare her future but also that of her son.
Yalulu was enrolled in the second cycle of orientation at the Nyota Institute. «I am going to pursue my studies while researching how to become an Enfant Reporter to bring my help to other girls and boys from our neighborhood.»
UNICEF and the Congolese government, together to respect the Convention regarding children’s rights
UNICEF, through cooperation with the DR Congo, works with the political-administrative authorities on the prevention within the community to safeguard the rights of children in accordance with the Convention regarding children’s rights.
Early sexual activities are not only prohibited for children but very harmful. The most legitimate rights of the child, especially health and education must be respected by their parents and the members of the community.
It’s on this note of hope that I urge everyone to better consolidate a real success for the rights of the children of Tanganyika.
Post translated from French by Matthew Khalkhali
More info about early marriages in DRC
Benjamin Kasongo est membre du Réseau des Journalistes Amis de l'Enfance (RJAE), basé à Kalémie.
Benjamin Kasongo is member of the network Réseau des Journalistes Amis de l'Enfance (RJAE), based in Kalémie.
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