Salmina's escape from early marriage
Apr 26, 2017
"A man came [to] our home one afternoon," recalls Salmina. "He told my father that he wanted to marry me." The man was 58 years old. It was then that 16-year-old Salmina was faced with a destructive truth: she would be just another girl with a broken dream. In Mozambique, one in two women gets married before age 18 and one in four marries before the age of 15.
"I was so shocked when I heard that," says Salmina recalling one of worst days of her life. Her opinion was not asked for. It was her father's choice to decide her future. She had to remain quiet until the conversation was over. "I was unable to express my feeling or decide for myself," Salmina says.
She knew this meant she had to drop out of school. The news of the arrangement broke the heart of the community chief, Hilario, a father of three. He called a meeting with Salmina's father and the man she was supposed to marry. Help a child realize their full potential. Give the gift of education. Hilario was convinced that the Salmina was not ready for marriage, insisting that she return to school. "My role is to educate my peers [about] the advantages of a child continuing their studies instead of getting married early," Hilario says.
World Vision has been promoting campaigns in this community, encouraging children to continue their studies. The partnership with influential community members, leaders, authorities and local chiefs like Hilario, has been vital to achieving this goal. "There is too much resistance of people regarding this. It was not easy for them to accept this at once, but after in-depth explanations, they realized that this is important," says Hilario.
The good news came, filling Salmina's heart with hope again: she was free of early marriage and returned to school. "I knew then that the authorities succeeded to convince my father," she says, with a big smile shining on her face. "I was so happy and I ran to share the news with my friend."
Salmina finds comfort in her friends at school. Photo: Leovigildo Pedro/World Vision Today, looking back, her father agrees that this was the right thing to do, and Hilario's role was crucial in helping Salmina avoid being a child wife. "To stop a matter like this one is not easy, you need to be brave," Hilario continues. "Our relationship with other people is not upon the rights of children and the benefits of the community, because here the future of a child is at stake."
Thanks to leaders like Hilario, empowered by the child protection program, early marriages and youth pregnancies are being reduced in the community.