SafeHands will use the power of film to change behaviour within communities still practising child marriage in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The films will be shown within a community education programme, and can reach right to the heart of remote communities with the aid of a specially developed portable, solar powered DVD player.
It ran from 9:30 AM, 2 March 2009 to 4:30 PM, 11 April 2009
Registered Charity in England and Wales (1097928)
Although child weddings are illegal in Ethiopia the tradition is still very common in rural Amhara, one of the largest regions of Ethiopia where 14% of girls marry by age 10 and 39% marry by age 15. Although the bride, if very young, may continue to live with her parents for some years, a shocking 69% of married adolescents have not started menstruating when they have sex for the first time. One of the debilitating conditions which can result from child-bearing in early adolescence, before a girl's body has fully matured, is obstetric fistula caused by prolonged and obstructed labour. This condition, which leaves a woman with chronic incontinence, often results in her being rejected by her husband and ostracised by her community. Married girls forced into sexual activity too young also suffer psychological trauma which can affect them for life. SafeHands is a charity dedicated to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, primarily using films for education and awareness raising, working in partnership with the Ethiopian Government and the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia. SafeHands has recently made a film on child marriage in Amhara in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. A version of this film targets parents and community elders who have power over decisions as to whether young girls will marry. Under this project, the films will be shown in the context of successful “Community Conversations” programmes which allow communities to debate and find solutions to sensitive issues. Through film it is possible to convey powerful messages which can be important catalysts for this debate to happen. One of the most attractive aspects of the proposal is that a technological innovation of a solar powered DVD player allows the films to be shown in the most remote and rural areas where the problems are the gravest. SafeHands will join with local NGOs and community based organisations (CBOs) to train Government Health Extension Workers and other field workers to use the film within their programmes. The proposed project will expose the film to over 75,000 community men and women, and will aim to reduce the proportion of girls who marry by age 15 from 39% to under 20% within intervention communities. The project budget is £100,000.
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