Malawi child body rescues 138 girls from early marriages

Mzuzu-based Foundation for Children Rights (FCR) has rescued 138 girls of primary school going age in Karonga district from early marriages by supporting them to proceed with education.

FCR Project Manager Kondwani Botha said Nyungwe used to have a high number of early child marriages.

Botha cited a number of factors ranging from Fishing business, Rice Farming at Wovwe Rice Irrigation Scheme, Poverty and Cultural activities as the major causes.

“The area is very close to the Lake Malawi and mostly people rely on fishing as means of generating income. Young boys drop out of School and venture into fishing.

Malawi girls encouraged  to be in school
Malawi girls encouraged to be in school

“The boys then use the money to entice girls and marry them. This has contributed to school dropouts and early marriages,” he said.

About 80 girls were supported with money to buy school uniforms, writing materials and other essentials such as cotton while local Chiefs plucked 26 from marriages and the rest were retained in schools.

“The other girl was married at 12 but through our intervention she is now in school,” Village Headman Kamtembo said.

Apart from that FCR has contributed to an unprecedented increase in the enrolment and retention of girls in the seven schools it is targeting in the Nyungwe Education Zone in Karonga district.

“We used to get reports of at least three girls getting married each month, But now its very rare,” said Lucy Mkandawire, a member of Phapa Mother Group.

The targeted schools are; Chihepusha, Nyungwe, Phapa, Ulaha, Ukanga and Thawira.

The Zone’s Primary Education Adviser Francis Nyirongo said they are receiving many re-admissions.

“Before FCR intervention we had 2255 girls but now we have 2707 and more are coming,” Nyirongo said.

With support from the Netherlands based HIVOS, FCR is implementing a programme dubbed ‘FCR/HIVOS – Tackling Child marriages project’ that will contribute towards the ending of child marriages in Karonga and Nkhata Bay district.

The project is targeting 3000 girls both in and out of school.

On Thursday FCR organized a two day training course for Village Development Committees, Parents Teachers Associations and Mother Groups on sexual reproductive health rights.

“We want them to understand issues of sexual rights, reproductive health, sexuality and the right to health. We hope the message will trickle down to basic structures in the villages hence impact positively on girls,” Project Officer Tamara Mwafulirwa said on the sidelines.

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