16:50 | 27/10/2016 Society
Child marriage is prevalent across Vietnam, with almost all localities recording child marriage cases, which have serious consequences for children themselves and for their families and burden the whole of society, a national workshop on the issue heard in Hanoi on October 25.
Providing locals with information on child marriage
Statistics at the event show that this year more than 60 million ten-year-old girls around the world will enter adolescence, but millions of girls will be forced to get married to adults regardless of whether they agree or not.
Specifically, every day around the world nearly 48,000 girls are forced to get married and about 20,000 women under 18 give birth.
According to Vietnam’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2014, the proportion of women aged 15-19 that have married in the country is for 10.3% of the total. Child marriage is not just happening in ethnic minority communities, but is also quite prevalent in the Northern Mountainous Region, the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands.
In some communes, the child marriage rate even exceeds 50%. Among ethnic minority communities, the Mong people have the highest child marriage rate—up to 33%, followed by the Thai with a rate of 23%.
There are many children with early pregnancies and incomplete anatomical, physiological and psychology functions who have been forced to become parents, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien warns.
According to him, child marriage impairs the quantity and quality of the population. Stature and average life expectancy for ethnic minorities are also lower. In regions with child marriage, the average life expectancy is approximately 45 years old.
Regarding the causes of child marriage in Vietnam, Do Thi Quynh Huong, Deputy Head of the GOPF’s Population Structure and Quality Department, suggests the issue might stem from the influence of backward customs and practices that force children into early marriage, sexual abuse, lack of full understanding of laws relating to the prohibition of child marriage, limited access to reproductive healthcare and economic difficulties...Delegates at the event argued that at the local level traditional norms and customs still allowed women under 18 years of age to get married if their parents agreed, and this was considered a factor relating to local culture. Therefore, raising the awareness of local people is key to addressing the root causes of child marriage.
Speaking at the seminar, Truong Thi Mai, Politburo member and Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, noted that to address child marriage, the Government should develop an approach in consultation with international organisations, the UN in Vietnam, research institutions and civil society, which focus on changes in social norms to promote gender equality.
Astrid Bant, Country Representative of the UN Population Fund in Vietnam, affirmed the UN’s willingness to cooperate with the Government of Vietnam to ensure the protection of adolescent and girls’ rights, saying that with support from families, communities and the State, girls needed to be fully given their rights and favourable conditions for their comprehensive development.
Considering the consequences of child marriage, experts recommended creating a friendly environment in which for adolescents and youths to access services on reproductive healthcare in areas with child marriage and incest. Along with that, in the long term, it is necessary to invest more in socioeconomic development, education and healthcare, thereby changing the perception of ethnic minorities, especially younger generations, moving past backward practices and encouraging people to make the right choices in matters of marriage./.