KZN, EC, GP still experiencing high rates of child marriages - CGE

In two incidents in the Eastern Cape this week, teenage girls were rescued after they were allegedly forced to marry older men.

The Eastern Cape police team that rescued a 16-year-old girl who had apparently been forced to marry a man. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) on Thursday said there were still high rates of child marriages in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and Gauteng.

In two incidents in the Eastern Cape this week, teenage girls were rescued after they were allegedly forced to marry older men.

The CGE’s Jabu Baloyi said it was worrying that adults in some communities saw nothing wrong in marrying their children off to older men.

“They are misconstruing culture because usually, Ukuthwalwa [the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage] is between a consenting couple that loves each other and above 21-years old. It happens if their families refuse for them to be together; they would then elope. What’s happening now is criminality,” he said.

Baloyi said poverty played a major role as some parents forced their young daughters to marry older men because they could not afford to care for them. He said the commission had completed a study which proved child marriages were more prevalent over the festive season.

On Tuesday, police rescued a 16-year-old girl from a remote rural area in Engcobo, Eastern Cape. The grade 9 learner had apparently been forced to marry a 22-year-old man.

On Monday, Hawks members rescued a 17-year-old girl in Tsolo. It was alleged the teenager was abducted and forced into a marriage with a 35-year-old man.