Civil Society Organizations, government departments and local leaders in Ntcheu have ganged up to end child and forced marriages which is rampant in the district.
Speaking on Tuesday, 17th March, 2015, during the launch of the Anti Child marriage campaign at Group Austin, Traditional Authority Makwangwala, Ntcheu district Commissioner Harry Phiri said the campaign will help in reducing cases of Child and forced marriages which is on the increase in the district.
Phiri told the gathering that the district council through the Councillors will come up with By-Laws whose aim is to protect the rights of girls.
“We want our girls to be in school and nobody should force them to enter into marriage,” said Phiri.
He further warned some parents who force their children to marry at a tender age that the Law will not spare them.
Speaking on the same function, Deputy Police Commissioner who is also Officer In-Charge of Ntcheu Police Mrs Chikondi Chingadza said the duty to fight Child marriages is not a one man show but it needs all the stakeholders in the district to take part.
Chingadzi whose office is in the forefront to end Child marriages in Ntcheu said her office is leaving no stone unturned as far as children’s rights are concerned.
She admitted that her office receives cases of Child and forced marriages most of the times an indication that these issues are rampant in the district.
“Children as far as 10 to 15 years old are marrying older men the size of their father. This is a very worrisome development especially this time when government is trying its best to make sure that girls are empowered through education,” said Chingadzi.
She has appealed to all people in the district to report all cases of Child and forced marriages to Police or any other stakeholders who deal with Child cases.
Chingadzi also asked Chiefs to make sure that no one is abusing these children in the name of marriage.
“Chiefs are the ones who stay with these people in the villages. As per tradition no marriage can take place without their knowledge. They should be our eyes as well. If any chief will be found condoning such marriages he/she will be punished by Law,” warned Chingadzi.
Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) said last year alone, they withdrew about 68 children from Child marriages which is an indication that these cases are on the increase in the district.
YONECO’s district Manager for Ntcheu, Mrs Sewenthe Chipofya Mahwayo told the gathering that this year from January to March, her office has withdrawn about eight children.
Mahwayo said issues of Child marriages needs concerted efforts as they are done at various levels.
“Let me thank the Officer In-Charge for Ntcheu Police for mobilising the entire stakeholders in the district with an aim of fighting Child marriages. This is commendable indeed” she said.
Mahwayo brought along with her a 12 year old girl whose organisation rescued from Child marriage. The girl (name with held) told the gathering how her grandmother accepted the bribe from a certain man who wanted to marry her.
“I am the witness of Child marriage. By now, I would have been a mother at 12 but am very thankful to YONECO. They came to my rescue and now am continuing with my education and I want to fulfil my dreams of becoming a teacher,” she said.
The launch was spiced with various activities ranging from dramas, poems, songs and traditional dances. There was also football match between Ntcheu Police and Manchester United which ended 0-0.
Concern Universal pumped in about K250, 000 for the launch. The money was supposed to be used on the International women’s Day but they thought it wise to combine with Launch of the Anti Child marriage campaign because it is their focus as well.
Other stake holders who assisted with various items were Airtel Malawi, NICE, Care, YONECO, Social welfare, Blantyre Synod just to mention a few.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :