Early marriage or child marriage is the term that refers the marriage union between two people in which one or both parties are younger than 18 years of age. Tanzania’s marriage act of 1971 sets the minimum marriage age for girls is at 15 years with parental consent and 18 years for boys. It permits the marriage of 14-year-old children when the court is satisfied. In a landmark 2016 decision, the Tanzanian high court ruled these provisions unconstitutional, and directed the government to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years for both girls and boys. The Tanzanian government has legal obligations to outlaw child marriage and end the harm suffered by girls.
Our story brings us to Pemba Island, a part of Zanzibar Archipelago which is known for its modest culture and religion. However, one among many social problems that has been researched on is child marriage. Child marriage exposes young girls to teen pregnancies which have led to increased maternal risks, made them prone to sexually transmitted diseases, brought psychological trauma and put a large barrier for the girlchild to continue with their academic journey. Ultimately, the young girl grows up to be dependent, hopeless and held back from living the full potential of her life.
Through the use of 3D Animations, the Tai Tanzania team was able to reach a few regions including Pemba. Precisely, Tai team delivered education regarding Early marriage through the use of Animation Film called Naweza (I can). Revealing the reality of most young girls who do not have freedom to complete their education and are forced to get married instead.
Naweza Film made many young girls and stakeholders think deeply and widely of how early marriage can be a threat to the economy and their self-development. The story portrayed in the animation is relevant and it is exactly what is happening in their community. Keeping all other social and cultural factors constant, the fact that girls in Pemba are prone to get married below 18-years-old is seen as a norm. On the other hand, girls are fighting to change this tradition so as to save their dream of accomplishing their education and becoming what they aspire to be.
The field coordinators Mariam Mintanga and Gloria Shio, have witnessed stories of the indigenous who have been victims to Early Marriages. On the bright side, the schools they had visited had a good number of girls enrolled in secondary education; this is a greenlight that somewhat shows the great effort being invested in educating the community, and yet more is to be done to change things completely.
Books and tests are not the only way to educate people about the menaces of Early marriage, it is beyond the paper and pen. It is more of a transformative education and all this can be done once we choose to talk about it.
“One person’s problem in the social arena makes the whole community’s problem”. Early marriage can be as personal as a family agenda but its consequences strike the whole community at large.