Zambia: Eradicate Early Marriages

opinion

Just how much gain is there in forcing your own child into a marriage that she's not prepared for apart from the fact that she is still not ripe for matrimony?

Even if the female being forced into marriage was of age, in this day and era, arranged marriages should not exist. People have a right to choose who they would want to spend their lifetime with.

Forced marriages are many times than not a breeding ground for gender based violence and marriages of that have no happy ending.

It is not shocking that Police in Shiwang'andu have saved an 18-year-old grade 11 pupil from getting married to a 28-year-old teacher after she phoned the officers to report the matter.

The police have since arrested the victim's husband-to-be, her mother, her stepfather and grandmother.

The quartet was picked up on Saturday in Chibesakunda village of Chief Chibesakunda's chiefdom.

As unbelievable as it sounds for the poor young girl to have called cops on her own parents and her husband-to-be, matters of this nature have been the rise even when perpetrators have been punished with long jail sentences to send a warning message to others.

A lot of parents, especially in rural areas attribute these inhumane actions to traditions. The real truth, however, is that some parents marry off their children at an early age because of poverty and just greed sometimes. They see their poor young girls as a way of escaping hunger.

According to a World Vision report, Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world with 42 percent of women aged 20-24 years married by the age of 18.

Owing to the above facts, early child marriage has continued to affect development of our country directly or indirectly because most of these girls are pushed into marriages against their will after being withdrawn from school. Imagine a girl being forced to get marriage in Grade 11. All the time she spent in school from primary stage, junior secondary and high school to end up in an unhappy home.

Research has also shown that early marriages also contribute to Health Risks: Child brides are more likely to suffer from depression and trauma due to abuse from their spouses or the way they are forced to grow up. Also, child marriage in Zambia is often correlated with pregnancy, which can lead to death for the mother or child because the mother is not developmentally mature enough to carry a baby.

The risk of gender based violence is more likely to be experienced through domestic violence including physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Heavy punishment should continue being meted on those found wanting to deter potential perpetrators. Even though the vice of early marriages continues, things could've been worse if the Government and cooperating partners had not already put in place measures to halt it.

The Government and its stakeholders should continue working hard to eradicate this vice and ensure that the problem is completely diminished by 2030 as declared in the recent past.

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