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Whose Foot is in the Tight Shoe?

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Negotiating Inclusive Pathways for the Eradication of Child Marriage in West Africa

image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

The lack of synergy between existing child marriage prevention initiatives and a systems approach to child protection limits children’s access to holistic services that can help reduce their vulnerability to early marriage. From an integrated feminist and child rights standpoint, culture, religious traditions and poverty do not justify the sexual exploitation of female children, nor fixation on “soft” interventions as a strategy for eradicating child marriage. The slow pace of change in behaviours and attitudes towards child marriage in West Africa necessitates a rethinking of the nuances of community resistance to change, and the implementation of more vigorous actions to ensure just treatment of children. Initiatives to prevent and eradicate child marriage must be cognizant of the strength of multisectoral partnerships and the overarching legal frameworks for the protection of children. State parties need to ensure that the pathways for change reflect the interplay of robust child protection legislations, well-resourced child protection systems, viable local community resources, investments in research on child marriage, and state leadership in holding child marriage perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Affiliations: 1: University of Guelph-Humber, Toronto, Canada,;


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