Evangelical Association of Malawi has express great concern over parents who force their young girls into marriage in bid to get money in a form of dowry to feed the family.
Evangelical Association of Malawi district officer Matchona Phiri said during the district stakeholders’ meeting aimed at reviewing different projects implemented in the district, that cases of early marriage in the district is worrisome as the community is still treating a child as capital to raise money for the family.
“We have various projects here in Karonga and most of them are doing well but we have a greater challenge to curb early marriage cases in the district which are rapidly increasing at a high pace,” said Phiri.
He observed that girls as young as 12 years old are forced to get married in exchange of money to provide for their families and capital to start businesses.
“In the areas where we are working the issue is very rampart in the Group Village Head Man Chisi were we tried to rescue about six girls who were forced to get married but they end up going back to their marriages as they were not welcomed in their families because parents were saying they cannot give back the money or cows they received from the man which is the husband of the girl.”
He continue to say “we tried taking the issue to the traditional leaders for help but they also seem not interested in the issue saying to them the issue is normal, all they say is that the act is part of their culture and that if the parents received the cows or money from the man, they are not supposed to give back.”
Phiri said their organization tried to involve the government on the same but fail to intervene.
“When we saw that we cannot handle the issue alone we tried to involve the office of social welfare for help in sensitizing the community on the issue but they too failed to rescue the girls.”
District Social Welfare Officer Heston Jaji agreed with Phiri saying the issue need great interference.
“Early marriage cases are really high in Karonga but because resources are limited government alone cannot handle the issue as it needs to change the mindset of the community at hand because it involves cultural practices,” said Jaji.
Adding that “as an office we have planned to discuss with Karonga NGO network to find strategies that can be used to sensitize the community on the dangers of early marriage and that doing so is against the law so that in long run we reduce the practice.”
According to Primary Education Advisor (PEA) of Chiwondo Zone Bester Mpawula, schools of Waye, Chazale, Zilangari, Kasimba and Mpuyu the practice is very high as they register about five girls dropping out of school on every school holiday because parents want money to feed their families.
“Parents here say if you have a girl child you are a rich person as such when the girl reaches adolescent stage they force her to get married so that they get cows or money from the man who will marry the girl and start business.”
Karonga is known with cultural practices such as Kupimbira and Kulowola which demand a man to pay money or cows to a girl’s family in order to marry her.
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