Malawi joined the rest of African countries on Sunday to mark the Day of the African Child with children caling on traditional leaders and the police to help stop cultural practices that affect their well-being.
Some children, especially those in rural Malawi, face outrageous rituals that are critically harmful to health, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and under-age marriage. Others, such as ‘child witchcraft’ are often about children being pushed out of a family by a new marriage partner.
The day was officially commemorated at Chikala Primary School in Machinga under the theme ‘Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility.’
Written in the placards were messages of call to stop early marriages and were extended by a call to traditional leaders and parents to stop the early marriages which they say is life threatening and violation of their right to education.
Minister of Gender and Children Affairs, Anita Kalinde said Government is committed to engage with traditional leaders to stop child marriage and other cultural practices that hinder girls education and welfare.
“We need to work together so that we can eliminate child marriage and harmful cultural practices against our girls,” said Kalinde.
She said government was committed to protecting the human rights of women, girls and children and the promotion of positive cultural values.
Traditional Authority Chamba said is aware of cruel age-old traditions that have lost meaning and relevance
Celebration of the Day of the African Child (done annually on 16 June) is an occasion to recall the 1976 uprising in Soweto, South Africa, against the brutal apartheid system, but more importantly, the day presents an opportunity to reflect on the realities of children in Africa today.