Communities in Nathenje, Lilongwe have agreed to formulate bye laws which will assist in ending early marriages mainly among girls to be implemented starting April this year.
Speaking on Friday during a community dialogueon how to end early marriages organized by JournAids in partnership with Community Health and Environment Clean Trust (CHECT), Group Village Headman (GVH) Nathenje said the bye laws will guide parents and guardians to protect a girl child from entering or forced into marriages.
“If anyone is found guilty, the law will take its course. There are fines or penalties attached to it ranging from chickens, goats, sheep or money equivalent to the livestock,” he said.
CHECT Executive Director Leonard Chiluzi said his organization will be tasked to orient the communities around Nathenje on the positive impacts of the laws to communities as well as the nation.
“We want this tendency of forcing young girls into early marriages come to an end and also make sure that all cultural practices like kupuputa ndodo ya mfumu, Nkhandwe and kusasa mfumbi that lead to early pregnancies are also stopped,” he said.
He said his organization is working in collaboration with the police, health, education and faith leaders to enforce the bye laws in the communities around Nathenje.
JournAids Executive Director, Christopher Bauti applauded the communities for coming up with the laws where if properly followed they will achieve the purpose of ending early marriages among girls.
“Early marriages have led to school dropout as well as early pregnancies among young and immature girls thereby having complications when giving birth like fistula and also increases maternal mortality rate and population growth in the country,” he said.
Currently, he said, the country is experiencing population growth because of among others early marriages whereby girls start bearing children at the tender age.
According to recent media reports, Malawi’s population has now hit 17.6million, a development which is scaring for a developing nation with little resources.