Nsanje — Local leaders, parents and guardians have been blamed for failing to eliminate child early marriages in Nsanje district.
Voluntary Services Oversees (VSO) District Coordinator, Innocent Chikwakwa Monday said statistics on child early marriages in the country shows that Nsanje is second highest after Machinga.
He said the situation was alarming and shows that local leaders, parents and guardians were contributing to the evil.
The district Coordinator said considering the fact that child early marriages were escalating, VSO thought it wise to launch a one-year project dubbed 'Adolescent and Youth Sexual Productive Health (SRH)' in the district with an emphasis of eliminating child early marriages.
"Upon seeing the gap which is there as more underage girls are being forced to marry or marrying, VSO thought it wise to start an intervention to address the challenge. The project aimed at engaging the youths, local leaders, parents or guardians so that they can understand the evil of child early marriages," Chikwakwa said.
The VSO District Coordinator is upbeat that the intervention would have much needed impact as apart from reducing overpopulation, it would reduce cases of school dropout among the female learners.
To show that early marriage in Nsanje district still exist, Martha Kennedy who is now in Form four (school withheld) said she got pregnant when she was 16 years old.
Martha explains: "When I was waiting for Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination results I got pregnant. When the results were out, I was selected to the Community Day Secondary School however I failed to start form one.
"But with my parents' encouragement and Campaign for Female Education's (CAMFED) commitment to pay school fees, I went back to school after delivery. Now I am in form four."
Senior Chief Malemia in an interview said it is the responsibility of everyone in the district to end child marriages in the district.
"Traditional leaders, parents or guardians and even religious leaders have a duty to perform to ensure that child early marriages are eliminated in the district. Let me warn everyone that you will not be spared if you are found promoting this type of malpractice," Senior Chief warned.