Although the social imaginary refers to distant places when talking about unions of girls with older adults, the practice is still quite widespread in large regions of the country, particularly in the North Grande. And it is urgent to expose it, because it is a form of violence and a violation of human rights that is rarely talked about.
In Salta specifically, the practice is concentrated in the San Martín and Rivadavia departments, which borders on the Ramón Lista department, in Formosa. The data comes from the report “Preventing marriage and child unions: a form of violence against women and girls in Argentina”, that Foundation for the Study and Research of Women (FEIM) He presented last Thursday in a press “zoom” with journalists from different provinces.
The call child marriage designates any union, whether formal or informal, in which one of the parties is under 18 years of age. If that minor is less than 15 years old, the union is forced, since in Argentina a child cannot give consent.
In the country There are 231,000 girls under 18 who are married or living with men, mostly between 10 and 15 years older than them, as it appears dthe quantitative-qualitative diagnostic study carried out by the FEIM in the framework of the Marriages and Coexistence Unions Project in Argentina, which has been developing since October 2019 with the support of the UN Women Trust Fund for the Fight against Violence.
This percentage of the national average, 4.7%, rises to 7.2 in the case of Missions, the province with the highest rate of girls married or in informal unions. The province of Chaco, with 6.9%, it ranks second; follow him Formosa, with 6.4%.
In a second group, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos they have percentages of 5.4%; Santiago del Estero Y Currents, 5.3%; Salta, with a percentage of 5%, is in eighth place, followed by The Rioja, with 4.9%.
Following the tables, it can be seen that in the NOA Salta region is the province with the highest number of girls and adolescents in child marriage, with 5,356 in this condition.
Area of concern
The president of the FEIM, Mabel White, stressed at the conference that if the data is analyzed by department, Formosa is “at the forefront, with the department Ramón Lista”, which together with Matacos, border the extensive Rivadavia department of Salta. “They have a high frequency and we have to take them almost as a unit”He explained before recalling that in that area “indigenous populations predominate.”
In Ramón Lista the percentage of girls and adolescents in coexistence unions is 15.4% (206 people) of the total population of that age group and double the provincial average. More than 80% of the inhabitants of this department are from Wichí town.
Crossing the interprovincial border, in the Chaco salteño the indigenous population is also the majority. That neighboring department, Rivadavia, is painted red on the FEIM map that indicates the places with the highest frequency of child marriages: the percentage here rises to 9.9%, almost double the provincial average. In that place, 295 girls and adolescents were registered in child marriage, in the 2010 Census. The largest number of girls in this condition is found in the neighboring department, General San Martin, where the percentage is 9.5%. The details of the other departments where girls are married can be seen in this table:
The map and the painting illustrate the persistence of this practice, and also the general silence about it. “Child marriage or coexistence unions are considered to belong to the family and private sphere. The cultural and ancestral mandates that still exist in many provinces and the stereotyped gender roles contribute to favor the persistence and naturalization of these marriages or unions at an early age in society. “One of the conclusions of the FEIM study maintains.
Bianco insisted that little is said about these situations. “At the point where we have made the least progress is in child sexual abuse”. “I feel that we are making little progress, I feel that it is still not a point that feminism has really taken it as one of the flags and that It’s very serious”, He stated before answering the question about whether progress was made in eradicating this practice. “I think we are the same or worse”, and taking into account “the poverty factor, which increased”.
Then he referred to these “remote places, and where there are those ancestral principles, we have not made progress in that field either.” And he lamented in this sense that “in Salta we are worried because the children are dying of hunger, but nothing is changed” because it is easier to build a water well than to fight these child sexual abuse practices.
Salta / 12 inquired about the sources for the FEIM study regarding these departments of Formosa and Salta, and whether they consider that there may be a sub-registry, taking into account that they are places with an undocumented population. “The source is always the data from the in-depth study of the 2010 Census information and we have requested new crosses and analyzes to study this issue,” he replied.
She was also consulted on how to include a view from indigenous peoples: “Only with their participation we will achieve it”, he emphasized. She recalled that indigenous women have another thought about some of these issues, “They are things that we have to reconcile”, if not, there will be no solutions, she concluded.
A violence that compromises life
These data are not really new because they are based on a cross-over of information from the 2010 Census and other sources such as the Office for Women of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
Bianco made a self-criticism: “I think that something we did not do, and there I feel responsible, is not having made more mention of this issue as a form of violence, so now we believe that we must insist on this: it is a form of violence against girls, and it is a form of violence that compromises the rest of their lives“Because they leave school, they are going to be precocious mothers, they are going to increase their poverty, he said.
The study lists the problems associated with child marriage: school dropout, adolescent motherhood, the increase in gender violence and the increased risk of HIV infection.
The report also recalls that 72 girls and adolescents between the ages of 14 and 19 were direct victims of femicide. 50% of those cases were due to links between partners and former partners. And another 47 girls up to 14 years of age were victims of related femicides, 58% of them the murderers were their parents or step-fathers and 2% (1 case) their partner.
Bianco insisted that “these harmful practices” must be on the agenda, because common sense must be changed that allows there to still be judges and the general population who continue to believe that if a girl becomes pregnant it is better for her to join or marry the old man.
“Pregnancy and the denial of voluntary termination of pregnancy to a girl is violence,” he insisted.
Bianco stressed that from 1980 there was a decrease in child marriages in the world, but that does not happen in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, in which Argentina does not even appear in the numbers. “That worries us.”
It also drew attention to other violent practices against girls and adolescents who are silenced, such as genital mutilation. “Mutilation in the country is not that important, but it does exist. There is a strong Syrian Lebanese immigration. With the return to Islamism of these groups, mainly men, it has generated this that it is observed that there is a greater practice ”that is not visible, but exists, he said.
Did any country apply effective public policies to eradicate child marriages? They asked him. Bianco said that there are two types of experiences: “on the one hand, there were changes, and the elimination of exceptions” to marry girls off. On the other hand, in Asia, peaceful and in other countries, “the most successful interventions have been those that have kept girls in school” and the implementation by governments of measures to help make this happen. “Comprehensive sexual education is fundamental,” he added before calling for work to denature this practice: “It must be said that it is a form of violence.”