When Girls' Lives Matter: Ending Forced and Early Marriage in Cameroon

Advocacy Materials
New York
Population Council
34 p.

The past decade has witnessed a dramatic increase in awareness about early and forced marriage of girls as a widespread violation of human rights. In short, early and forced marriage exacerbate gender inequality and the likelihood of poor outcomes throughout life. Combining public education about the negative effects of early and forced marriage with positive preventive strategies is valuable. The Association for the Struggle Against Violence Against Women (ALVF) in Cameroon is one such example. ALVF provides counseling, language and literacy training, economic support, and empowerment activities for girls who have fled (or been thrown out from) early or forced marriages to help them overcome their adversities. At the same time, the program seeks to bring about broader social change by highlighting in the public sphere — as well as among parents and husbands — the plight of girls who were married early and/or by force. Hence, ALVF’s prevention strategy is based on a broad understanding of the perceptions, expectations, and motivations that sustain the practice of early and forced marriage. That understanding is based on the experiences of the Cameroonian women who work, or seek help, at ALVF, which are shared in the following case study.

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