Girl marriage has been identified by the United Nations (2015) as a harmful practice
and it has been listed as one of the global agendas to be ended by 2030. In South
Africa, protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic
value, but also an obligation clearly set out in the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the
South African Constitution (RSA, 1996). Girl marriage is prevalent in the provinces of
KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape (Department of Social Development,
2015; Byrne, 2017).
The goal of the study was to explore and describe social workers’ role at FAMSA in
curbing girl marriages.
The qualitative study had both exploratory and descriptive research goals. It was an
applied study and used a case study design. The study population was FAMSA social
workers in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. The sample of the study was selected
purposively and included 12 participants. The data was collected through face-to-face
semi-structured interviews and data was analysed thematically.
Findings indicate that girls are vulnerable to early marriage owing to socioeconomic
conditions, self and peer pressure, patriarchal culture, stereotypes and religion. These
incentives result in long-term consequences entailing missed opportunities for
development, affecting the girls’ and their children’s futures. Social workers contribute
to curbing girl marriages through life skills education in schools, which empowers girls
to become activists claiming their rights. Social workers also engage in awareness
campaigns against girl marriage through dialogues, workshops, public meetings and
radio talks. The lack of stakeholder co-ordination, partnerships, organisational
resources and clear policy guidelines was identified as an obstacle in curtailing girl
marriage. The study concludes that the structural reasons and aftermaths of girl marriage are
interconnected and should be collectively addressed through stakeholder coordination,
partnerships, resource mobilisation, policy development and
Recommendations include creating a platform for dialogue among all stakeholders,
strengthening existing programmes to include topics on girl marriage, developing a
peer education programme in schools and developing policy to end girl marriages.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2019.