Child marriages in Serbia - Analysis and recommendations

Child marriages represent a problematic practice in which a child forcibly enters into marriage with another child or with an adult. This phenomenon is characteristic in various communities in many countries, but, as a rule, primarily affects girls. Although this practice in Serbia is present to a lesser extent than in some other areas, although it is prohibited and punishable, unfortunately, there are still thousands of children who, on an annual basis, enter into child marriages. In Serbia, this problem is particularly pronounced within the Roma community.

For decades now, there have been attempts to put a stop to this practice both at international, but also at national levels. In this regard, a series of documents, conventions and declarations, as well as laws and national strategies have been adopted to combat the phenomenon of child marriage. Many institutions have been established with the task to protect the rights of the child, and to take care of those children who have entered into marriage, or who are at risk of child marriage. Although these attempts have given certain results, it seems that we are still far from complete eradication of this practice.

Children who enter into child marriage are facing horrible consequences. From chronic poverty and illiteracy, through early parenthood, to a complete lack of prospects for any kind of personal development, this practice completely objectifies children, and condemns them to live a tedious and meaningless life. This happens everywhere where there are child marriages, it is happening now, among us, in Serbia. In order to protect the rights of the child and allow proper childhood for all children, and especially those from vulnerable groups in Serbia, primarily Roma, it is essential that the competent institutions always and promptly react to the phenomenon of child marriage and find a way to protect the child. No tradition can be justified if it endangers the child's life, and it is therefore necessary to create good and sustainable programmes for communities in which this practice is widespread, so the community itself realises the harmfulness of the practice and engages in its suppression, and every child becomes free of fear that the suffering is their only certain future.

In order to solve the problem of child marriage and stand in the way of this grave abuse of human, and children's, rights we all need to work together. We believe in a society in which every girl and every boy have a carefree childhood and the opportunity to go to school and develop their potentials. We wanted for this study to be a step closer to this goal, and we thank all those who participated in creating it.

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Foundation Ana & Vlade Divac and NGO Atina