Child marriage is a widespread problem in Togo, a country in West Africa. In Togo, approximately 22% of girls under the age of 18 are married. Despite the high number of child marriages, there are many social and political aspects of Togolese society that encourage child marriage in Togo.
Here are five reasons for the persistence of child marriage in Togo.
Poverty: This is one of the main causes of child marriage in Togo. As one of the poorest countries in the world, more than 30% of Togo’s population is affected by extreme poverty. Many impoverished families arrange marriages for their daughters to improve the family’s financial situation. Poverty also impacts other issues that lead to child marriages in Togo, such as access to education and health.
Health problems: Many children in poverty suffer primarily from health problems. In Togo, life expectancy for children under the age of 5 is 50%. The death of a child can be a financial burden for a poor family, especially if the children are employed in the household or agriculture. Financial pressures often force parents to marry off their daughters as soon as possible to reduce the financial burden. As a result, many young girls are forced into arranged marriages with strangers.
Lack of education: Education also plays a critical role in the marriage of children. Young girls in Togo are married off if they do not reach a certain level of education. This mainly affects young girls in poverty, who cannot go to school because they help their parents raise siblings, do household chores or work in agriculture. Almost half of the Togolese illiterate women in their early 20s were married before they turned 18.
Financial dependence: Financial independence for young women is essential to ending child marriage in Togo. Although many families marry off their young children to escape poverty, child marriage is counterproductive to breaking the cycle of poverty for young girls in Togo.
No policy support: Although poverty often leads to child marriage in Togo, the lack of policies prohibiting child marriage allows child marriage to continue. In Togo, it is illegal for girls to marry under the age of 18. However, with parental consent, girls can marry before the age of 18. Without adequate legislation to prohibit child marriages in Togo, child marriages will continue to occur.
The prevalence of child marriages is mainly due to poverty itself, its effects, and the lack of government support for laws prohibiting child marriages. However, there are many organizations like W4.org that advocate for these young women and their rights. With their efforts and pushing for proper legislation, young Togolese girls may one day achieve financial and personal independence.