Chikwawa — Minister of Gender, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati has sent some warning shots at all perpetrators of child marriages in the country that they will be arrested if nothing is done to stop the vice by November 1, this year.
The minister made the remarks in Traditional Authorities Maseya where she had an interface with the communities following brutal rape of an 11 year old girl, and Ngabu during her visit to appreciate CRECCOM's interventions under the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project.
Kaliati urged chiefs, parents and guardians to make sure they take full responsibility in ending child marriages or risk being arrested.
"I implore you chiefs, parents and guardians to make sure that this trend stops everywhere in your areas by November 1.
"This message is for everyone and whosoever sees this happening but chooses to remain silent or is perpetrating the vice, shall face the law," she stated.
The minister further asked communities to stop complaining over petty issues leading to booming of child marriages and school dropout among children saying perseverance pays.
"Focus on your well being and the education of your kids no matter how big problems might be. We have people in our society who have faced it all but have survived difficulties of all times, they are now in big positions. Send all children to school, both girls and boys," she said.
On his part, Traditional Authority Maseya said he will ensure that all perpetrators of child marriages in his area are brought to book.
Chief Maseya added that parents and traditional leaders who also look at these things happening but decide not to stop them risk arrests and dethronement to protect his status.
Taking her turn, Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM), Executive Director, Madalo Samati said under the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project implemented with support from the Global Fund through Action Aid, her organization has reached out to a good number of girls under Senior Chief Ngabu with various empowerment initiatives.
"As CRECCOM we believe that for the girl child to be successful, she needs a holistic approach. Through our interventions under the AGYW project, girls have gone through financial literacy and investment skills, HIV and Aids, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Life skills and more.
"That is why you see them into tailoring, others producing juice as well as being able to bargain whenever a problem arises," she said.
Samati said through the project, girls have been trained as peer educators so that they are able to carry over the project after phasing out this December.
Speaker of Parliament who was also guest of honour, Catherine Gotani Hara called on parents and guardians to protect their children especially girls and ensure that each and every child is sent to school.
The meetings were patronized by various senior government representatives, CSOs, Chiefs and community members.