Bomi County Electoral District #1 Rep. Samuel Garya Karmo has joined the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (MoGCSP) in condemning child marriage in Liberia.
Serving as the keynote speaker at the official launch of the ‘campaign to end child marriage in Liberia’ in Tubmanburg recently, Rep. Karmo said “with no disregard to the values of traditional practices in the country, it is about time for everyone to let children remain children and not force them into marriage because of economic difficulties a family might be faced with.
“No country in the world has all the laws written for its citizens to follow but transforming ideas into a value system for collective progress positively changes a nation,” said Rep. Karmo.
He said not everything considered legal by a group is expedient at all times, and not everything considered expedient is legal as well.
“Unwritten traditional laws practiced by our people of yesterday seemed good to them at that time but they did not consider the risk associated with them,” he said.
He noted that because he has the passion to always advocate for women and girls who are victims of circumstances, he will never be complacent and watch them continue to suffer challenges that can be avoided.
“All of us, parents, guardians and friends who are mature should promote the moral and educational development of children, most especially girls,” Rep. Karmo admonished.
The lawmaker assured his audience that people who continue to abuse children and endanger their future will meet tougher punishments.
The chairperson of the Governors’ Council of Liberia (GCL), Mrs. Musu Kiadii, said her office will always stand by the Gender Ministry and other local and international organizations that are fighting against child marriage and other abuses.
Mrs. Kiadii cautioned men who are in the habit of approaching minors for sex to desist. “If you believe in the dignity of a person, I advise that you don’t accept to go to bed with a girl child, neither should parents allow their daughters to be trapped into early marriage,” she said.
The president of the Liberia Children Representative Forum (LRCF), Ms. Satta F. Sheriff, said her office is calling on all stakeholders in the fight against child abuse to stand taller than what they are now.
“We all should realize that more needs to be done if inhumane treatment against children must come to an end in this country,” Ms. Sheriff said. “A girl with a dream is not only a noble citizen but an untouchable pearl destined for the enlightment and transformation of a nation.”
She commended all those who are supporting MoGCSP’s efforts to curtail the violation of children’s basic human rights.
Launched under the African Union Commission’s theme as “African year of human rights with focus on women’s rights” and the national theme “We are children not wives, save us from child marriage,” the campaign is focused on accelerating change across Africa by encouraging governments to develop strategies to raise awareness and address the harmful impacts of child marriage.
According to the MoGCSP’s report, the first summit on ending child marriage was held in Lusaka, Zambia, from November 26-27, 2015. Liberia’s accurate statistics on child marriage is yet to be made public; UNFPA’s child marriage sheet’s statistics states that 42 percent of girls in Africa are married before they reach 18.
The UNFPA said child marriage leads to premature pregnancies, maternal mortality, infant mortality, illiteracy, mental health problems, abuse and violence against female children who are married, in most cases to older men.