Forced child marriages as a form of child trafficking in the South African context
Child marriage is a clear violation of human rights. It is still practised around the world and affects the lives of young girls in particular. Such marriage takes place between two persons, where one of the spouses is under the age of eighteen and free and full consent has not been given, especially in situations associated with child trafficking. Child marriages have similar defining elements as child trafficking. For instance, the coercive element is found in both and forced marriage can consist of sexual or economic exploitation, which is often the purpose of trafficking. Therefore, if child marriage consists of the three core elements, it can be a form of child trafficking. Child marriage violates the rights of several children, for example, the right to education, dignity, health and equality. This practice disrupts the development of children, as it deprives them from fully enjoying their childhood and has negative impacts on their health, as it puts them at risk of being vulnerable to domestic violence. The parents or guardians of young girls marry off their daughters at an early age because of poverty, consider them as poor investment and value them less compared to boys. There are a few international and regional legal instruments that address the issue of child marriage by protecting and promoting the rights of children such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1980). Although these legal instruments prohibit child marriage and serve as guiding principles for States Parties, children’s rights are still violated by members of their families, as young girls are constantly forced to get married by their parents and families through the excuse of culture and economic status.
- Law 
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