Dowa — At least 21 under 18-year-old girls are said to have been rescued from forced and early marriages in the area of Inkosi Mkukula in Dowa district.
This was revealed during commemoration of the 16th June, 1976 Day of African Child, by a community organization which is led by girls called 'Teams Advancing Women in Agriculture (TAWINA).'
The commemoration was held in the area, under the theme," Access to a child-friendly justice system begins at household level."
The Day was commemorated with many of the children out of school due to COVID -19 pandemic giving the girl child hope that schools will re-open soon and girls should not rush into early marriages.
Speaking during a function held at Group Village headman Kanyambo's ground in the area, TAWINA's Male Champion, Chaguza Banda, who is also a member of Chiyanjano Anti - Child Marriage Committee said the girls were rescued from the villages of Jumpha, Kamchira, Bementhe, Mmphanda, Ng'oma and Dete, all in the area of Inkosi Mkukula in the district.
Banda said four of the rescued girls are pregnant, five are with newly born babies, saying the committee is leaving no stone unturned, but to visit every house reported to have a girl child entering into marriage.
"Even though these girls are being rescued, they are still facing challenges which demand NGOs to come to their rescue with income-generating activities," said Banda.
TAWINA's Field Facilitator, Aness Banda, said her organization has lined up interventions for the girls that are being rescued which include tailoring, farming, child care and computer trainings to prevent them from going back into child marriages.
She said very soon her organization will implement a project called, "Girls in Marriage Advocacy," where these girls will also be the primary beneficiaries.
In his remarks, Inkosi Mkukula lamented that many organizations are shunning to visit the typical rural areas where many people are lacking social basic amenities due to impassable roads.
He thanked TAWINA for being the first NGO to visit the hard to reach Group Village headman Kanyambo area.
Inkosi Mkukula asked NGOs implementing girl child interventions in the district not to spare his area, saying it is his wish to see to it that all girls in the area reach form 4 for them to participate fully in the development of the area.
He pledged his commitment to work with the two Anti - Child Marriage Committees which have formulated by - laws for the girl child to ensure that girls are in school for the good of their families and the nation.