Chiefs from the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Makanjira in Mangochi district have cautioned their subjects against hiding behind culture to marry off their children who are below the legal marriage age in Malawi.
The chiefs made the appeal during a Community Dialogue Meeting on Child Marriage which YONECO organised in the area. The assembly was organized as a way of fostering discussions on the problem of child marriage with a focus on the negative impact it has on the rights and welfare of the minor, the family and the community as a whole.
In their remarks, a number of traditional leaders stated that they have done their best to modify harmful cultural practices. It was further stated by the custodians of culture that no-one should justify a child marriage along cultural lines.
It has been observed that some parents secretly marry off their young daughters and advise the couples to leave their villages and settle somewhere else. Some couples from the area reach the point of crossing borders and settle in the neighbouring Mozambique.
“Communities need to be aware of both the legal and socioeconomic and physiological consequences of child marriage. Parents should know that they can succeed in evading the law but the other consequences which the law was enacted to prevent, will still haunt them,” said Stephano Konyani – YONECO’s Field Officer in Makanjira area.
YONECO is implementing a number of interventions that are aimed at ending child marriages in the areas of T/A Namabvi and Makanjira in Mangochi district as well as in the area of T/A Zulu in Mchinji. The activities are being implemented through ‘Marriage; No Child’d Play’ Project which is being funded by Simavi.