Malawi: Machinga Chiefs Bemoan Lack of Parental Commitment in Fight Against Child Marriages

22 August 2018

Lack of parental commitment to end child marriages and unavailability of education sponsorships are frustrating efforts to curb this practice in Machinga District, traditional leaders have said during a legal clinic organized by Zanzibar University Muslim Graduates (ZUMUGA) which aimed at sensitizing chiefs on legal matters Sunday at Nanyumbu.

The leaders, led by Senior Chief Kawinga, said the resistance to efforts to stop early marriages has led to some of the chiefs to come up with their own by-laws to deter the practice.

"I for one, I fine five chickens or K5,000 for every parent or guardian who resists this and because of that we are seeing so e change," he told the gathering of the Muslim alumni from Zanzibar University.

In his turn, Group Village Headman Kachara said chiefs are trying hard to prevent child marriages but parents and guardians are pulling down those efforts.

"As advised by our paramount chief not to tolerate child marriages in our respective areas, every chief is observing that, but the challenge has been the parents. They don't want to embrace change.

"When we try to end these marriages, they ask us why we are concerned as if they are our children," he said.

Group Village Headman Kafozi hinted that lack of academic sponsorships for girls who have completed their Standard 8 is also hampering efforts to end child marriages, saying parents don't see it fit to stop a child from early marriage when they know they can't afford secondary school fees.

"Much as we are ending these marriages, the problem here is that when these children pass their standard 8 examinations, they fail to go to secondary school because of financial reasons. As a result, parents feel it's a waste of time to stop them from marrying," he said.

ZUMUGA chairperson for Southern Chapter, Daniel Kamanga said the legal clinic included issues of child marriages, inheritance, crime and domestic violence.

"We came here to sensitise our chiefs on legal issues as you know Machinga is one of the districts affected by social injustice issues including albino killings. So we are also here to make an impact along those lines," he said.

Chairperson for Court Users Association in the area, Haji Balasani thanked ZUMUGA for the sensitisation, saying it would help to improve their service delivery.

At the meeting almost hundred traditional leaders were in attendance from Machinga District.

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