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A Mozambican non-governmental organisation (NGO) has rescued a minor forced into “marriage” delivered by her parents as a way to repay a family debt, a source from the institution announced on Friday.
“The father handed the girl over at the age of nine to pay off the money he owed a merchant for drink, and when we found out, we started a court case to annul the marriage and rescued her successfully,” Cecília Ernesto, leader of Levanta Mulhere – Follow your Way (Lemusica) reports.
The case occurred in Sussundenga, in the central Mozambican province of Manica, where the organisation operates, and where, in the first three months of 2019, Lemusica has rescued four other girls from forced marriages.
In all, the NGO has intervened in 250 cases since 2016, usually involving men four or five times older than the female, in most cases due to economic pressures on the family.
The girls rescued are enrolled in school, receive psycho-social support and are involved in professional activities to speed their integration into society.
Premature marriage affects one in every two girls in Mozambique, one of the highest rates in the world and the second-highest in Southern Africa, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).Source: Lusa