The Executive Director for the Child Rights Foundation (CRF), Jennifer Mkandawire has called on public to intensify campaigns against the early marriages in the country.
Mkandawire was speaking in reaction to the latest Malawi Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey-MICS findings which among others expose flows in the protection of rights of children.
According to the study, at least 8% of under 15 girls have been getting married in the period between 2019 and 2020 in Malawi, a development that is being described as the wake up call to intensity awareness campaign in the country against the vice.
Mkandawire said most early marriages in the country are initiated by some parents who think that marrying off their girls could reduce their household poverty.
“The vice of child marriages must he eradicated. Parents who initiate early marriages should be taught the negative impacts of the vice,” said Mkandawire.
The child rights activist also notes with concern that this is happening at a time different stakeholders are carrying out campaigns to discourage child marriages in various parts of the country.
The report, presented to various stakeholders in Mzuzu, further informs policy holders and implementor that 38 percent of girls below the age 18 also get married before completing their education hence the need for action to reverse the trend.
MICS are conducted to provide information on development indicators to support monitoring of progress in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy – MGDS and other national development programs.
As such, Mkandawire implores on all stakeholders to improve on sexual reproductive health rights awareness and services delivery and reporting every case of child marriage to the police in order to break unwarranted marriages.
Harmful cultural practices or myths, high poverty levels, Covid-19 impacts and lack of motivation are some of the factors said to be contributing to the increase of child marriages in Malawi.
In Lowershire, it us understood that 312 girls dropped out of school due to early marriages and pregnancies in 2019 especially, in Chikwawa district.
While in 2020, about 268 girls also dropped out due to similar challenges with 280 in 2021.
Director of Education, Youth and Sports in the district, Hendrix Likeke has since described the development as sad.
Likeke said one major reason contributing to the development is frustration among girls while at school and at times society of value where most of them engaged themselves into sexual activities and marriages.
“We need to change our mindset. You may agree with me that most weddings in our localities are made up of young girls. There are several NGOs providing full support to girls but still, most of them are dropping out of school,” he said
The DEYS further called on education cluster partners in the district to do more than ever.
“Poverty yes! But, there are other girls doing better and proceeding with their education. Let’s bang heads and see what we can do,” he stated