Despite the efforts by local authorities and schools, child marriage is still a problem in mountainous districts in Quang Ngai Province.
Child marriage still a problem in Quang Ngai
Phong Thi Chi was forced to get married by her parents when she was only in 10th grade. One of her friends was also forced to get married that same year. Their marriages were done too quickly that the teachers and local authorities weren't able to react.
According to the teachers at Ba To High School, Chi is an outstanding pupil. Chi really loves studying so she found a way to continue going to school after the marriage and gave birth to her first child in 12th grade. However, many of her friends didn't return to school.
Chi said she didn't want to talk about her marriage. She loves going to school and understands that child marriage is not right but she was pressured by her parents.
"I also got married early," said Chi's father. "However it was in the old times, we still do it the same way now. She’s all grown up so let's get her married and be a mother."
The situation has not improved. In 2016, there were 161 child marriage cases in Ba To District. In the first nine months of 2019, the number dropped to 30 cases. Dinh Thi Ai Ly, deputy head of Ba To High School said they had started many movements to prevent child marriage but the results were not as good as expected. The pupils know that child marriage is wrong but they can't fight against village customs.
Most of the wedding ceremonies were done in a very short time which minimised any attempts to intervene. Many pupils drop out of school afterwards to take care of their children.
"Whenever the summer holiday, Tet or any holiday arrives, we are all worried that more pupils will drop out," Ly said. "Some drop out because they want to work and others because they got married."
Pham Van Dung, head of the Ethnic Minority Groups Department in Ba To, said child marriage would lead to families with too many children, poverty and malnutrition. Dung said he had seen many children with a bright future had to shelve their dreams because of child marriage.
He went on to say that it was not easy to put an end to child marriage.
"The most important thing is to change the minds of the parents and this will need co-operation from many agencies in the areas," he said.
Before 2016, there were 462 child marriages in six mountainous districts of Quang Ngai including Ba To, Minh Long, Son Ha, Son Tay, Tay Tra and Tra Bong and some communes in Binh Son and Nghia Hanh districts. By the end of 2018, the cases dropped to 150.
Note: The names of the children involved have been changed. Dtinews
Recently, an agreement between the Vietnamese and Lao governments engaging on addressing undocumented migration and marriages has contributed to maintaining safety and order in the locality.
Both child marriages and incestuous marriages among ethnic minority groups have been a long-term problem for local administrations in Nghe An and Quang Binh, although they have taken measures to curb them over the years.