Early Marriage: Trends, Causes, Consequences and Prospects in Selected Kebeles of East Gojjam Administrative Zone, Amhara National Regional State, North Western Ethiopia
This study examined the causes, consequences, trends and prospects of early marriage in Yenebrna and Graram kebeles by collecting primary data from 163 participants (112 respondents, 8 key informants and 42 focus group discussants) in addition to extensive review of secondary sources. It employed simple random sampling technique to collect quantitative data and purposive sampling technique to collect qualitative one using two research designs: cross sectional and approximating cross sectional with longitudinal research designs. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and thematic and content analysis
The findings showed that all children born in the study kebeles are forced to marry in their early childhoods by their parents. Yet, unlike to the usual case in which early marriage of females occurs in many societies, the studied communities practice early marriage for boys and girls without any level of distinction and irrespective of their differential levels of knowledge about its ill effects. The practice of early marriage is taken for granted as a normal way of life increasingly resulting in marriage of minors of every family. It is also found that early married children face a number of problems: fear to play with their peers both in and out of the school; reduced confidence and school dropout. Economic and cultural reasons, and parental and peer influence are the main reasons for parents to marry their children while all children accept their parents’ decisions as a matter of good conduct; immaturity to decide on their life and socio-economic deprivation. Unlike to parents of other Ethiopian societies following Orthodox Christian religion who marry their children, at least theoretically, unto their death, all parents in the studied communities marry their children with full knowledge of their divorce.
Unless regular, continuous and appropriate awareness raising interventions accompanied by practical actions of forbidding early marriage were put in place, it is impossible to break age old inbuilt social facts of early marriage in the studied communities. Reducing the practice, therefore, requires unreserved mobilization of residents, religious leaders, school teachers, kebele administrators, through concerted action of multidisciplinary professionals from development organizations, and non-governmental and governmental organizations.
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