“Sanna, Indian, married at 31, after a master, with a younger man, didn’t have to provide a dowry, although the family is Muslim”. This is the stereotype and what Giulia Vallese (UNFPA) says about one of the few success stories about the little-discussed issue of child brides and mothers, described in the last report (2013) by this “United Nations Population Fund”: Motherhood in childhood, face the challenge of adolescent pregnancy.
“Unfortunately we still know very little about the age group 10-14, but about the 15-19 years group, there’re 7.3 millions adolescent pregnancies per year, 70 thousands die from complications, and 3.2 millions ask for unsafe abortions”. Not to mention the infections: only in Guinea 35% of girls between 15 and 19 years claims to suffer it; the spread of HIV, 1.3 million HIV-positive adolescent females in the world against 780 thousands males; and rape: “I was attending the first year of high school, one night I went to get water, he raped me. I was terrified, but I was only 15 years: I didn’t even think that I could get pregnant. I realized only after…”, says Léocadie from Burundi, victim of violence.
“We should talk more about the shame that assaults the victims of this crime“, noted a psychotherapist in the audience at the presentation of the Report. Indeed, usually people don’t think that the woman has to fight in the crimes against them (from the forced marriage to rape – almost 50% of the episodes in the world are against girls who are younger than 16 years), and in addition to the damage, they go through the “fault” to have been in a “morally” or “socially” rough situation.
“The truth is that people judge, human beings are like that. I feel that, even after all your efforts and results, after all you’ve been through to overcome those obstacles, to become a better person… people really knows how to be ruthless, because in the end what they remember is always ‘ah yes, that had a son when she was 15′” comments Tonette, 31, from Jamaica.
We must empower the “vulnerable persons”. In these cases institutions are often able to say a lot of words that give some discomfort: female empowerment, vulnerable subject, gender violence (which is almost only female)… also, they usually seem falsely interested or even not aware of the issue. The fact is that there’s no need to empower the vulnerable person, “we” should just give her/him the chance to decide.
The importance to have governments that focus on education, because “we start from the idea of development as freedom: the girls education is a way to protect them”. It’s known that education is the first thing, seeing also the proportionality between the incidence of mothers girls and the poor education. Thinking to Malala, the young Pakistani seriously injured in 2012 by the Talibans for its own commitment to defense education. But it’s not enough: without any intervention of what surrounds these girls, a young educated can paradoxically suffers more her condition, because more aware of the tools that school has begun to put in her hand.
Fortunately, those who work directly in the field, understand first and best what’s happening and what we need to do. Cristiana Scoppa (Grandmother Project – Senegal) gives me the vision that finally shifting the focus of attention from the woman to the rest of society: “I realized that’s important to work on the context, on communities, on older women… often people recognizes them a certain authority, plus you can work on the relationship grandmothers – grandchildren. But you cannot take isolated girls or women, otherwise you stigmatize them, delivering them a huge weight: the girl that refuses her own culture and the woman that changes her mind. It’s something that I associate with the baptisms of the recent communists, do you remember? Why do they did it?” To not isolate the child in a Catholic society, I know, I wasn’t baptized as a child and I’ve always felt that weight… but that’s okay: it’s the community that should be educated, not the girls.