ARUSHA, TANZANIA, The authorities in northern Tanzania's Arusha Region (Province) have stepped in to dissolve at least 80 early and arranged marriages which could have affected girls who have just completed their primary (elementary) education and have been selected to enroll in secondary (high schools) schools next month, says an officer of the region's education department.

The 80 would-be wives, victims of early, arranged marriages are among the 29,624 children in the region who will be joining secondary schools in January after successfully completing seven years of primary education this year.

In Arusha alone, some 15,409 girls are enrolled for secondary education in 2018. However, around 80 of them could have missed such an opportunity if their parents and potential in-laws had succeeded in formalising their ill-founded arranged marriages.

Arusha regional education officer Mwalimu Gift Kyando says the 80 girls lined up for early marriages were from records gleaned across the entire region, but adds that some wards and districts are more notorious for arranged "marriages" than others, notably, Mwandeti; Oljoro; Musa and Olorieni wards of Arusha rural district.

Others are Longido and Monduli districts, home to mostly nomadic and cattle grazing pastoral communities. Apparently, these are the communities where girls seldom get enrolled in secondary schools, a fate that would have befallen other prospective 2018 candidates as well.

In many of the cases, we discovered that the girls' parents or guardians had already received dowries from prospective suitors traditional ceremonies are what remained before the girls were handed over to their future 'grooms,' Mwalimu Kyando iays.

Six of the rescued girls have since been taken to special children centres because the authorities here realised that the environments surrounding their respective homes are not conducive to them receiving further education.

To date, 36 parents or guardians have been arrested in connection with the alleged arranged marriages, he says, adding: Police officers went around the villages to arrest the offenders but we do not have the latest figures yet we also don't know whether the culprits have been brought to courts or not."