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Screaming through silence

CCFC leads a silent march to end early, forced marriage

Fada, BURKINA FASO — Early, forced marriage is a problem in Burkina Faso. In rural areas, girls are often compelled to form a family while still children themselves. Some, between the ages of 12 and 17, are married with their parents’ consent, others are kidnapped. CCFC wants to end this longstanding cultural practice, which denies girls the right to complete their education and threatens their reproductive health and future. A recent step forward was a CCFC-led silent march to raise awareness.

Nearly 2,000 people gathered silently in Fada late last month, where 67.3 percent of girls become child brides, according to the Burkina Faso government (second to the Sahel region at 87.1 percent). “We wanted the march to be silent for two main reasons,” said Jérémie Ouangrawa, CCFC country director, Burkina Faso. “First, when a pain is huge, we don’t need sound to express it. Second, the issue is well-known in the region. We want everyone to become aware and decide what role they can play in bringing sustainable change to the situation.”

The event attracted children, parents, non-governmental organizations, local authorities and community leaders, giving CCFC and our local partners an opportunity to share messages developed by school girls who participated in a slogan-and-quote contest organized for the event in late December. “A forced marriage is a prison of forced love,” read a quote/slogan from one student named Rachida.

The silent march was supported by governmental and non-governmental agencies, including Fonds Enfants, SOS Children’s Villages, the Canadian Embassy, the Ministry of Women and National Solidarity and Family as well as three CCFC field partners. Many other organizations were also indirectly involved, including Plan Burkina.

The next step will be the development of a local platform to prevent and advocate for better action to free children from violence and especially from early, forced marriages. Stay tuned.