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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Praxis Held Workshops for School Children on the Topic of Child, Early and Forced Marriages

In May and June 2017, Praxis held four workshops for the girls and boys aged 10 to 14 on the topic of prevention and elimination of child, early and forced marriages and early dropouts of Roma pupils from the education system, in the primary schools "Jovan Cvijić" in Kostolac, "Boško Palkovljevic Pinki" and "Sutjeska" in Belgrade, and "Aleksandar Stojanović - Leso" in Novi Pazar. The workshops were attended by more than 120 boys and girls.

These workshops are part of the activities aimed at preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriages, which have been implemented for the third consecutive year within the framework of the project Legal Assistance to Persons at Risk of Statelessness, financed by UNHCR. In 2017, Praxis will hold a total of 12 workshops, with an idea to raise an issue of child, early and forced marriages through discussing with children the causes and consequences of early dropout and then to empower them to stand against these phenomena based on acquired knowledge about the causes and consequences of this harmful traditional practice.

During the first round of workshops, through the completion of a questionnaire about the expectations of girls and boys from parents and school, as well as through discussions about early dropout, once again it was concluded that child, early and forced marriages were one of the causes of early dropouts of children from the educational system. In addition, it was shown that most children were not informed about the role of pedagogical assistants and their presence in school. In the second part of the workshop, the boys and girls created drawings to show the reasons why someone did not come to school and the typical daily routine of someone who did not go to school anymore. Their illustrations lead to a conclusion that children mostly dropout of school because they have to help their parents in providing income, because of going abroad and due to early marriage. However, all three reasons are tightly coupled with poverty. Thus, they mention poverty of primary families as a reason for early marriages, or the pressure of parents, which also correlates with poverty. An interesting fact is that, according to the drawings, mainly girls leave school. The drawings also show that girls/boys who have dropped out of school suffer badly because of that, since they are presented as sad and crying, while a large number of them are shown in the activity of physical work after the abandonment of school.

These workshops are just an initial part of Praxis' work with children on the topic of child, early and forced marriages, but they have certainly set a good foundation for further work and clearly pointed out to the existence of this problem correlating with poverty and early dropout of school. The next workshops will focus mainly on the prevention of child, early and forced marriages through defining the causes and consequences.

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