Week long blitz to clear backlog of court cases in Maputo, Manica and Nampula
World Vision / Photo for illustration purposes only
Manica Provincial Judicial Court sentenced on April 18 a man who paid a debt for alcoholic beverages of 600 meticais (less than US$10 at current exchange rates) with his 12-year-old daughter to 19 years in prison.
The judge sentenced the 45-year-old Alberto Malote, the shopkeeper who accepted the child and married her under duress, to the same sentence.
The girl was rescued by a non-governmental organisation NGO Levanta Mulher e Siga o Caminho (‘Lemusica’) [Stand Up Woman and Move on Your Way] that continues to take care of her, and which reported what it sees as a test case to Lusa yesterday.
The story happened after the father, Augusto Vasco, found himself unable to pay a debt of 600 meticais – about US$9.8 – for several months’ supply of drink.
Victim awarded less than US$500 compensation
When they learned of the case, Lemusica filed a lawsuit. “We went ahead and successfully rescued the girl, who had become the shopkeeper’s wife,” Lemusica’s Cecilia Ernesto told Lusa. The ruling also awarded the victim 30,000 meticais (about US$490 at current exchange rates) compensation.
This is one of the 105 support cases the women’s organisation has undertaken in Manica in the last 15 months.
In 2016, one hundred cases of premature marriages were reported by nine girls’ clubs set up in schools and communities as part of a campaign to reduce sexual abuse of minors and underage marriages.
Of the hundred cases in 2016, the organisation managed to rescue 80 victims. Twenty were moved from their place of residence before the organisation was able to reach them.
In Mozambique, half the women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married as minors – 14 percent before the age of 15, according to UNICEF which, together with the government, launched a national Combating Premature Marriages campaign, which runs until 2019.
The campaign faces obstacles, however.
The ‘lobolo’, a practically nationwide ritual where a dowry in cash or kind is paid to the girl’s family at the time of the marriage, has frequently scuppered allegations of child rape and early marriage in Manica.
“We continue to appeal to society to safeguard the future of girls and not to give them in premature marriage,” Lemusica’s Ernesto pleaded.Source: Lusa
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