Malawi government authorities are called upon to work with haste to pass the Marriage Bill, which has been shelved at cabinet level since 2006.
The call from Catholic Education Commission in Malawi (Cecom) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) was made Thursday when the Malawi launching the ‘end child marriages campaign’.
Cecom National Education Programme Coordinator Stephen Mgalileya Ndhlovu says it’s sad that the country does not have a specific minimum age allowing for marriage until today.
“Child marriages are a common place in Malawi at the moment. Malawi is among 20 countries with highest rates of child marriages – ranks at position 7. This is not good for a country grappling with serious levels of poverty, a country that already ranks 170 on United Nations Human Development Index,” he said.
Ndhlovu said child marriages take children out of school and essentially chocks any desire and ambition to continue with education.
“Uneducated girls are more prone to abuse, and have little prospect of developing and fruitfully participate or develop their own lives and of their families; more so because of the cultural tendencies rampant in Malawi that perpetuate male dominance,” he said.
However, the country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which recognises 18 as legal marriage age.
“At present, therefore, it is right to state that Malawi is in breach of an international instrument she ratified. We must all get serious. Laws that safeguard girls in this country must be put in place for us to make headway on the child marriage campaign,” Ndhlovu observed.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati said such experiences shall come to an end soon.
“Under my authority, the ministry is into serious business and will ensure that Malawi is a child-marriage free country,” Kaliati explains.
She said the Marriage Bill will be presented to the forth coming sitting of parliament hence all the concerns raised will be addressed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :