Of the 107 million girls in Latin America and the Caribbean, 60 million of them will be married before the age of 18, revealed the report on the State of World Population 2020 – presented today by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -, which focuses on harmful practices against women and girls such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) ).
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The report says that the prevalence of child marriage in some countries in the region is comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa. The countries with the highest rates are the Dominican Republic (36%), which ranks first; Nicaragua (35%), the second; Honduras (34%), the third, and Guatemala (30%), the fifth. Colombia ranks ninth, with 36 percent of women who married between the ages of 20-24 or began living in a free union before turning 18.
In the case of Colombia, although there is little information available on these harmful practices, The report shows that of the total of girls between 10 and 14 years old who live under some type of union with a man and are located in urban areas, 14 percent are mothers.
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While of the adolescents between 15 and 19 years old who have some type of union also in urban areas, 72 percent are mothers. In total, in Colombia there are 128,665 girls and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 who are mothers.
We estimate that another 13 million girls marry by obligation and that 2 million more than
girls are victims of genital mutilation by 2030
In rural areas this reality is more alarming: 55 percent of girls between 10 and 14 years of age who are in a marital union are mothers or informal union, and 75 percent of adolescent girls ages 15-19 are mothers.
In addition, for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 in urban areas who are mothers, 39 percent of their children’s parents are over the age of 20. While in rural areas, 52 percent of those parents are over the age of 20.
To this is added, according to the report, that more than 60 percent of these girls belong to the lowest-income population group. and, therefore, they are more exposed to suffering gender-based violence, having less income and levels of education.
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Hence, they are at greater risk of being socially isolated and having children at a younger age. These risks occur among the poorest households, living in rural areas, and among indigenous and Afro-descendant groups.
In Colombia, according to Verónica Simán, representative of the United Nations Population Fund for Colombia, “An exception is contemplated that allows marriages in people under 18 years of age. Recently, an initiative that attempted to eliminate this exception failed in Congress. Some arguments in favor of the elimination were aimed at affirming that girls and boys and adolescents were being subtracted to decide on this issue, when in fact it is that the majority of marriages occur with much older men, in girls who are in conditions of vulnerability, ”he said.
Globally, the report estimates that 4.1 million girls will experience genital mutilation this year. This is concentrated on the African continent, but it is also frequent in countries like Iraq and Yemen; and in some Asian countries like Indonesia.
In Latin America there have been some cases. In Colombia, they are associated with indigenous communities that inherited this practice in colonial times. and as part of the multiple cultural exchanges present in this country.
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The case that evidenced this practice in the country – there are no official data about it – occurred in 2007, when a girl from the Embera Chamí community died as a victim of this custom. According to Arelis Cortés, of the Embera Chamí ethnic group and leader of the Valle del Cauca Regional Indigenous Organization, “this practice continues to be carried out in some indigenous peoples of Valle del Cauca.”
While progress has been made to suppress some harmful practices across the globe, the covid-19 pandemic threatens to disrupt these gains.
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According to Neus Bernabeu, UNFPA Latin America and Caribbean Regional Advisor, a recent analysis revealed that, if services and programs that promote gender equality remain suspended for six months, “It is possible that another 13 million girls will marry by obligation and that 2 million more girls will be victims of genital mutilation by 2030.”
The report also makes some recommendations to avoid further backtracking on gender equality policies. PFor example, it estimates that globally, $ 3.4 billion a year by 2030 would serve to end the suffering of some 84 million girls.
Finally, for Harold Robinson, UNFPA Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, “It would also help if we as men recognize and renounce the privileges that we enjoy in this society. ”
TATIANA ROJAS HERNÁNDEZ
Journalist in the Life Today section
In Twitter: @fanzinerosa