Traditional Leaders in Malawi have been urged to develop practical action plans in their respective areas that will help to support the prevention and elimination of early and forced child marriages and keep girls in schools.
Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Karen Mackenzie, made the request Tuesday in Karonga during a briefing workshop of selected chiefs in the country on the Kigali Declaration-2015.
McKenzie said traditional leaders are the custodian of culture hence there is need for them to take an upper hand in dealing with the malpractice..
“The major cause of early and forced marriage in this region are the harmful cultural practices, now our main aim of coming here is to have a dialogue and promote partnership collaboration with the local traditional leaders so that they can have their own caucus of dealing with such cases,” she said.
“Africa is one of the regions in the Commonwealth that has high prevalence of early marriages. As Commonwealth, we are taking this problem not a business as usual, but an extraordinary challenge because without putting much effort, we realize that over the next decade 140 million girls under the age of 18 years will be forced to marry,’’ said Mckenzie.
Paramount chief Kyungu of Karonga district said the meeting have helped them to identify some of the harmful cultural practices that are being carried in their respective areas as well as the best practices.
Kyungu also asked his fellows to fire or demote any chief who have high records of such cases in his or her area so that Malawi can be the African role model.
However, the Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa 5 of Mzimba district observed that nowadays it is not only culture that is influencing girls to get married at a tender age, saying the girls’ own attitude also drives them into early marriages.
To deal with the challenge, the Ngoni Chief said there is need to encourage dialogue with the girls themselves on dangers of getting married at a tender age.
‘‘The best way to deal with early marriages in our communities is to have dialogue with the children time and again,’’ said Paramount Chief M’mbelwa.
“We can discuss this for more hours but if our young girls continue hanging up with boys in the name of their freedom of movement and other rights which is part of violating their responsibility then our discussion will be unfruitfulness, I would have therefore love if the meeting was for the girls themselves at the ground because history itself shows that round table discussions have failed,” argued Mbelwa
During the workshop which ends on Friday this week, the chiefs who are drawn from across the country are expected to share best practices and action points that would help Malawi to arrest the problem of child, early and forced marriages.
Some of the notable chiefs at the meeting include Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga, Senior Chief Chowe of Mangochi, Senior Chief Kachindamoto from Dedza and Senior Chief Lukwa from Kasungu.
Malawi is one of the 53 member states of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Some of the traditional leaders from other districts who attended the meeting were Senior Chief Chowe of Mangochi, Senior Chief Kachindamoto of Dedza, Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu and Senior Chief Kameme of Chitipa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :