Chikwawa authorities sign MoU to eliminate child marriages

Chikwawa, Concerned with increased cases of child marriages, authorities in Chikwawa District on Wednesday launched an Ending Child Marriages Campaign.

The event took place at Mkumaniza Primary School in Senior Chief Ngabu in the district.

Apart from launching the campaign, officials also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a tool that highlights common challenges that perpetrate child marriages in the district.

Speaking during the campaign launch, Guest of Honour Emmelia Shaba who is Third Grade Magistrate under Chibisa Court in Senior Chief Chapananga emphasized on the need for concerted efforts from various partners if all child marriages are to be tackled.

“It is my plea that chiefs, police, parents and church leaders among other stakeholders, should hold hands to eliminate child marriages. Let’s send our children to school,” Shaba said.

The Third Grade Magistrate, who also acted as a role model to most girls during the event, sent a strong message to all perpetrators of child marriages that if anyone is found forcing a child to get married will surely face the law.

She called on traditional leaders in the district to seriously enforce by-laws in order to improve the quality of education in the district.

Shaba further expressed worry that annually, 42 out of every 100 girls get married before the age of 18 in the country.

“This is our battle to fight and must be won. To our chiefs, let’s make sure that the bylaws are respected, we must strive towards reducing the figure of 42 (rate of girls getting married before they are 18),” said Shaba.

Chikwawa District Social Welfare Officer, Rosemary Mahata urged children to report any forms of abuse to responsible individuals such as police, mother groups, school officials and even traditional leaders.

Mahata blamed high prevalence of early or child marriages on peer pressure and some harmful cultural practices that fuel the malpractice.

The MoU signed is expected to start working from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020.

The agreement highlights factors that perpetuate child marriages such as lack of parental care, peer pressure and some step parents who pose a threat to children’s wellbeing among many others.

During the launch, female role models from police, Catholic University of Malawi and Teaching professionals gave their motivational speeches.

Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare entrusted World Vision to conduct the Campaign on Ending Child Marriages in Chikwawa District.

The campaign launch was supported by Malawi Red Cross Society, CRECCOM and Youth for the Consolidation of Democracy among others.

Source: MANA Online