Govt. calls for unity in stopping child marriages

Lilongwe, Government has called on Malawians to work together in ending child marriages as one way of promoting children’s rights in the country.

Justice and constitutional affairs minister Samuel Tembenu said this on Wednesday at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. He was speaking during an interface dinner commemorating the constitutional amendment on marriage age.

Tembenu said it has been long journey which saw parliamentarians and other stakeholders working hard to ensure that the amendment on marriage age16 years to 18 is a success.

The process to raise the legal age of marriage began way back in 2008 and the focus was on the greater good of protecting a lot of children that are being married off.

We are here to celebrate a landmark achievement by government in enacting the law, Tembenu said.

The justice minister then called on the nation to help publicizing and implementing the new law.

Everyone should know about this law especially people in the villages where a lot of child marriages take place. They should understand that the law forbids that he said.

He added that the enactment of the law will help in curbing the problem of child marriages.

In her remarks, UN resident coordinator Mia Seppo thanked government for its commitment towards advancing the empowerment of women and girls in the country.

The government has shown commitment to outlaw child marriages and provide a violent-free environment for women and girls through the enactment of the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, Seppo said.

Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) executive director Mzati Mbeko said for the law to work smoothly, there is a need to come together as a nation in safeguarding women and children.

We need to protect our women and children. We must work together in implementing these laws, Mbeko said.

Last year parliament passed the bill that raised the child age from 16 to 18 years to protect children who are forced into marriages and other abuses they face.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA