The high rate of early marriages of girls at Nkombo Island sector in Rusizi district has caused panic among parents, saying their children’s future gets doomed at an average of age 16.
Parents attribute early marriages which are common in the region to poverty with fishermen seducing girls especially from poor families to marry them.
“Girls are used to marring at the age of 16 which is most of the time caused by poverty pushing girls to decide on such illegal marriage. It is a serious matter. We no longer expect bright future for our daughters,” said Nyiransekanabanga Domithila, a mother.
“We also married at lower age because of circumstances at the time. However, it should not be emulated nowadays. It is sad to see a child abandoning school for husband, attracted by money from fishermen,” said Nyabyenda Florence.
Some women have told IGIHE that underage marriages are common among girls who can’t access school.
“We marry at lower age because it is our mother’s legacy. Most of us get husbands at age16 and above,” said Jeannette Uwabahungu.
Another woman, Niwemugore Appoline said; “Early marriage is most of the time found among uneducated girls over despair for the future leading them to succumb to seduction from fishersmen.”
The executive secretary of Nkombo sector, Rwango Jean de Dieu has explained that they are standing against the practice where they force couples to separate if they are found to be underage while mature men married to minors are punished by law.
“We are against underage marriages. It is illegal. A mature man marrying a child is accused of sex abuse and punished by laws. When we find a couple is comprised of children, we separate them and bring their parents together to discuss on the negative consequences of such marriages,” he said.
Under the Rwandan law, a woman supposed to legally marry when she reaches the consent age of 21.