Ethiopian church launches campaign to stamp out child brides
(Addis Ababa) The Orthodox Tawahedo Church of Ethiopia will intensify the interventions and training and sensitization courses to warn families about the harmful effects produced by the social praxis of so-called “early marriages”, which still survives in different rural areas of the Country. This was reported by Abuna Matthias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, one of the ancient so-called “precalcedonian” Eastern Churches (those that did not accept the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon). Abuna Matthias re-launched the commitment of his Church to counteract the phenomenon of “child brides” on presenting in recent days a new book in Amharic language that sets out the criteria with which the Church considers the issue of early marriages. The publication of the book is part of an awareness campaign financed also with funds obtained by the United Nations Organization and the Church of Norway. In the past, mainly due to ignorance and lack of experience – said the Patriarch among other things – there were not sufficient precautions to curb this practice and its harmful effects. But now the Church intends to sensitize the faithful in an appropriate manner, so that this custom is completely abandoned and does not find a way to perpetuate itself among the younger generations. “God”, Abuna Matthias pointed out, “created mankind with a dignity superior to all other creatures, so those who seek to lower that dignity are opposed to the law of God”.
According to data also re-launched by UNICEF, the annual number of early marriages has fallen to 12 million a year. In the last ten years, one third of global early marriages occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while in the previous decade the percentage recorded in Africa was one fifth of the total. But in Ethiopia – which in the past was among the five African States with the highest incidence of early marriages – the number of such marriages has decreased by 30% in the last decade.