GENET rescues 109 girls from early marriages in Thyolo, enrolled back to school

In a bid to promote girls education in the country, Girls Empowerment Network in partnership with Rise Up has seen 109 young girls withdrawn from early marriages in Thyolo district and re-enrolled in schools.

Schoolgirl with a placard

Girls enjoying music played by Skeffa

This was disclosed on Saturday during the launch of the Enabling Girls to Advance Gender Equity (ENGAGE) initiative at Masambanjati Primary School in Thyolo district with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to Traditional Authority Nchilamwera, through GENET they were able to withdraw from marriages 190 in their area.

He said most of these girls were forced into marriages due to poverty and deaths from their parents.

“In my area l do not allow child marriages because they kill the future of these girls. We initiated by laws whereby anyone breaks them he or she is asked to pay three goats,” he said.

Nchilamwera also said most of these girls were en-rolled at Masambanjati Community Day and Primary School.

He also said this is one of their achievements and states that they were happy that included empowering women who have been able to participate in developmental committees at village and area levels.

GENET executive director, Faith Phiri said this project is successful because of the bylaws which were drafted by chiefs to fine any parent forcing a girl or boy to marry while still young.

“These bylaws are working and helping our children especially girls to get education. Many people are afraid of breaking them because they fear the consequences as they feel the penalties are too high that they cannot afford,”said Phiri.

Phiri also added that since the project was established in 2017, child marriage cases have been reduced by 80 percent and hoping for the better.

One of the girls, who was withdrawn from marriage is a 17 year old girl, Violet Afraid, who dropped out of school when she was in form 2.

“I am so delighted that now lam back in class at Masambanjati Community Day Secondary School. It is not easy in marriage while you’re young,” said Violet, who is now in Form 3.

Everine Dickson, is another beneficiary of the programme. She was rescued from her marriage and is now back in school at Masambanjati Primary School in standard 8.

“It happened after my friend who already found herself a husband convinced me into marriage. She told me it would be better if l got married like her, so that my husband could take care of my need. But I regretted what l did-Now lam happy that l continue with education,” she said.

Florence Thakomwa, a parent from the community said; “We are happy that these bylaws have been put in place by our traditional leaders to ensure that our girls get education.”

During the function there were some traditional dances, but the whole launching ceremony was spiced up with entertainment music from Lilongwe based well known musician Skeffa Chimoto.

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