Kabwila hails ban of child marriage in Malawi

Malawi has passed a law banning child marriage, raising the minimum age to 18 in a country where half of girls end up as child brides.

Kabwila:  No to child brides

Kabwila: No to child brides

Women rights campaigners hailed the move as “a great day for Malawian girls” and said the law would help boost development in one of the world’s poorest countries.

But they warned Malawi would not end child marriage without concerted efforts to tackle poverty and end harmful traditional practices like early sexual initiations.

“This law is extremely crucial because child marriage is a big, big problem in our country,” said parliamentarian Jessie Kabwila who helped push for the new legislation.

“The country will for the first time clearly articulate that we are saying ‘No’ to child marriage.”

Malawi has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage. Half of girls wed before their 18th birthday and nearly one in eight is married by 15.

Early marriage not only deprives girls of education and opportunities, but also increases the risk of death or serious childbirth injuries if they have babies before their bodies are ready. Child brides are also at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence.

“This law is very important because of the number of girls who drop out of school because they are going to get married, and because of the high numbers of girls who are dying when they are giving birth,” Kabwila told Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

“We cannot talk about development if we have child marriage. Women’s empowerment is a crucial player in development and women cannot be empowered if they are not educated.”

She said parliament had voted unanimously last Thursday for the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill which the President is due to sign into law within three weeks.

Child marriage is deeply entrenched in Malawi’s society partly because of a belief that a girl should marry as early as possible to maximise her fertility.

Girls are currently allowed to marry at 16, or 15 with parental consent. But many marry much younger.

Brussels Mughogho, Malawi country director of development charity EveryChild, said poverty pushed some families to marry off young daughters in exchange for a dowry payment or so that they had one less mouth to feed.

Mughogho said it was also vital to work with traditional leaders to end early sexual initiations which fuel child marriage.

In parts of Malawi, when a girl reaches puberty she may receive a night-time visit from an older man – known as “a hyena” – who has sex with girls to prepare them for marriage.

“There are so many driving factors behind child marriage,” Mughogho said. “This is a very important step that we’ve taken, but child marriage will never end with legal instruments alone.”—Reuters


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14 thoughts on “Kabwila hails ban of child marriage in Malawi”

  1. Malindima says:

    15 years ? Uputa Fistula!

  2. alukosyo says:

    Who is going to police this law? u Hv banned marriage before 18 years but they can still enjoy sex as much as they can. akamadzakwatira atatopa ndi chigololo

  3. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Koma ndiye mwagundika ndimalamulo bwanji.

    Lets be realistic, when she does not attend school azitani? Popeza makolo ena amapangira dala kumatumiza ku sukulu ana amuna okha.

    First, you need to force parents to send girl child to school by law.

  4. clement says:

    Palibe chasintha pa bill imeneyi. Ana a 18 yrs below azikwatiwabe. Chasintha nchoti amuna tichenjere ndi nkhani zokhuza kulekana ukwati(divorce). Women are happy because of a law of divorce which favors them

  5. clement says:

    Kabwila mano ngati ntchenzi ndipo udokotala wako umayenera kukhala wausing’anga.Nkhani ya zakayi ndiyovutabe chifukwa cha umphawi makolo ena amaumiliza tiana kulowa m’banja asanafike ngakhale 16 ndiye kaya zioneka.

  6. Bololo Wachitumbuka says:

    Kabwila ur a btf can u marry me am above 18+

    1. freespch says:

      How did this bill pass? The clause that says a child of 15 above can get married with consent of the parents does not make sense. Most parents are culprits of the vice due to ignorance and poverty. Orphans are married off coz of the bove but our argument that a girl of 15 is still not ready both physically and psychologically. Can her body withstand carrying a baby for nine months and deliver safely. This contributes to high mortality rate. Malawi has the highest in the region and curbing child marriages is one way of saving lives. How can we talk of safe motherhood with this clause legalizing it. Does the clause specify the age of the man? Please revisit this bill as it endangers the life of the girl child.

  7. Rodriguas Latata says:

    Is kabwila under 18 since she is not married? Obviously she is not a good advocate for anything to do with marriage. Three failed marriages can not be a good yardstick, ma’am. Osakwatiwa sakhala nankungwi, ndi mwana nayenso.

  8. EYE WITNESSES says:

    Bola kosakhwima kamazuna and kuthina. Ma 18 years of today ukamvamo chani? Amakhala anayamba kugonedwa mma eleven years. Ndani Mamuna safuna kulawa ka Virgin ayimike manja?

  9. Victor Ntaukira says:

    There is nothing to celebrate here. Marriage age remains as low as 15. Read the Bill between lines, marriage age for our girls is not 18 but 15.

  10. Modziyekha says:

    What apoint to make yelling and fussing?Don’t get Kabwira wrong!

  11. MWANA says:

    Palibetu Kusintha Kothandiza Apa. Mwana Wa Chi’malawi Pa 18 yrs amakhal wosakhwima both physicaly ndi m’maganizo. Above 20 mwina zikada sinthako.

  12. frascis sakala says:

    Kabwira looks too old. Are you over 70 years?

  13. liu says:

    we will not then marry expired products like kabwira. nothing to celebrate we will still be marrying young

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