Media experts have faulted the Marriage Act for allowing young girls to marry at the age of 14, an age whose bearer is considered in the Child Act 2009, as a child.
The Child Act identifies a child, as any person below 18 years of age and specifies clearly that there can never be a marriage between an adult with a person under 18 years.
However, the Marriage Act of 1971 has given the court powers to allow a marriage of a person who has attained the age of 14 years.
The concern was raised at the weekend at training for trainers’ workshop on reporting children’s issues organised by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) for editors and media experts.
A media expert and a lawyer, James Marenga, raised the concern, saying the contradictions had brought a lot of debate with regards to children’s right and marriage on the other hand.
He said something ought to be done about it to check the contradiction caused by the two laws.
Marenga, who was presenting a topic on ethics on reporting children’s issues, said the media has the duty of protecting the children, those affected by HIV/Aids, people with disabilities, those living in streets, neglected ones and the displaced, particularly immigrants.
He called upon the need to ensure whatever was done during reporting was for the best interest of children.
A senior journalist and a lecturer with the Tumaini University, Godwin Gondwe, said a child of 14 years may be able to become pregnant due to the morphology, but that did not justify them getting married at such an age.
“We ought to ask ourselves whether it is fair for a child to bring another child in the world,” wondered Gondwe.
A Programme Officer with MCT, Pilli Mtambilike, said the Council had decided to prepare guidelines of ways to report children’s issues after it noted some gaps in reporting.
“We are not giving good service to the public when it comes to reporting children’s issues,” she said.
According to Mtambalike, the MCT has managed to disseminate the guidelines on ways to report children’s issues to all media houses.
The guidelines on reporting children with special needs require journalists to report accurately, to avoid harm, protect confidentiality, change the focus in case the story puts children at risk as well to balancing the stories in the best interest of the child in question.
She said, the guidelines furthermore calls upon journalists to avoid broadcasting or publishing images, which intrudes the child’s innocence or information that is damaging to them.