Stakeholders in Mzimba feel child marriages have no space in the district and a taskforce has been mandated to withdraw all under aged girls from such marriages to allow the girls and boys to go back to school.
This is being implemented where Khosolo Women’s Forum in Traditional Authority Khonsolo in Mzimba Khosolo in partnership with Action Aid Malawi called for a meeting which has empowered chiefs in the area to formulate deliberate by-laws that will help in curbing or reducing early marriages.
Action Aid Malawi Northern Region cluster manager Stonard Madise expressed shock at the school drop-out rate and pregnancies that girls have gotten during the closure of schools that was ordered because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have a project in two school zones namely Unyolo and Kabena but looking at the figures of girls who have fallen pregnant at the time schools were closed. We got alarmed and felt obliged to empower our chiefs to come up with a deliberate policy that could curb the malpractice which is hindering socio-economic growth,” Madise explained.
Commenting on the matter, Inkosi Khosolo Gwaza Jere blamed what he termed primitive cultural beliefs which he said were fuelling bad practices resulting from greed on the part of parents.
“It will only take three days or a week for me and chiefs in my jurisdiction to enforce the by-laws that will help in reducing this practice of early marriages and teenage pregnancies that have proven to be retrogressive in our communities,” remarked Inkosi Khosolo.
Speaking on Tuesday in the area during a stakeholders’ meeting, Khosolo Women’s Forum director Joyce Mwale said they agreed to meet traditional leaders in the area to end the marriages.
“We will also work with the police on the exercise,” she said.
Mzimba South Education Office reported 528 cases of child marriages and 439 teenage pregnancies registered since the closure of schools in March this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Schools reopened on Monday for primary and secondary school examination classes only and for final year students in colleges and universities.