This week was big for the rights of girls--by which we really mean the future well-being of women and their children in Gambia (West Africa) and Tanzania (East Africa). Both countries have outlawed the marriage of girls under the age of 18, as reported by BBCNews:
Gambia's President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls. Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.In both countries the average woman is currently having more than five children each and in both countries nearly half of the population is under age 15. These are two among too many African countries in which children have been having children, and we have to hope that the changes in the law will have the effect of genuinely changing behavior. The BBC article notes the fear of a backlash, but in my view that is clearly worth the risk.