Children from the area of Senior Chief Chiwalo in Phalombe district have urged leaders to act on a pregnancy scandal, which has forced a 15-year-old orphaned girl not to start her secondary education at one of the country’s prestigious government schools this September after being impregnated by an alleged uncle.
Speaking to Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) officers on Thursday, a group of concerned school-going children from Dindi and Lihaka Primary Schools and Chinolampeni Community Day Secondary School (CDSS), decried the state of child protection in their area.
“We are told now and again that violence against children, including impregnating a girl-child is a crime, but why is it that nothing is being done on the case of a girl who is suspected to be impregnated by her own uncle here? Why are community leaders failing to take action? This is a very sad development,” bemoaned Samuel Samudeni, who is also a budding citizen journalist under GENET’s project called Girls Up, Speak Out and Engage (Gusoe).
Both Child Protection Officer and Area Development Committee (ADC) chairman for Traditional Authority (T/A) Chiwalo Charles Supuni and Benson Mwamvani confirmed the case in separate interviews.
“I am aware of the case and we are taking all necessary procedures to bring the suspect to book. My office is liaising with other stakeholders such as the police to ensure that investigations into
the matter are thorough,” said Supuni, adding that cases of sexual violence perpetrated by close relations are increasing in the area.
He blamed increased gender inequalities, social norms (including cultural practices) and poverty
which expose women and girls to violence such as unprotected sexual acts, unplanned pregnancies,
child marriages and HIV infection.
On his part, Mwamvani described the incident as regrettable, hence; committed to take action.
“Let me assure all the concerned parties, including children, that something will be done to ensure
that justice prevails on the matter,” said the newly-elected ADC chairman.
According to a teacher at Dindi Primary School located in the areas of Group Village Head (GVH)
Chiwalo, the pregnancy scandal of the 15-year-old girl (name withheld for the purposes of child
protection) has angered many communities considering the fact that she was one of the intelligent
students whose selection to the national government school excited the entire community.
“She is our hope. Our University material. She has been performing extraordinary since lower
classes. And during this year’s PSLCE examinations she scored grade A in all the subjects and got
selected to Providence Secondary School. But it is sad to learn that an uncle whom she was staying
with has impregnated her. This is big blow to us,” he said.
On her part, GENET’s officer Grace Khoza said they were closely working will relevant stakeholders to ensure that justice prevail on the matter.