A chief in Phalombe says parents in the district are forcing their children to get married as a way of overcoming their financial problems.
In an interview, Sub-Traditional Authority Namasoko highlighted that the driving force for early marriages within the area is poverty.
“Parents think that when they send their girl child into marriage, then they would be receiving some gifts from their son-in-laws as a way of giving thanks to them. Sometimes they are influenced by those who seem to be doing well thinking that their children would also succeed in life. All this happens because they are poor and they cannot afford to feed their families,” said the chief.
In an effort to curb the malpractice, the traditional leaders from the district have introduced by-laws which are meant to safeguard the rights of children in the area.
Assistant Superintendent Maureen Mkhwamba, the community policing coordinator, acknowledged the by-laws which have been formulated within the area.
“When a family has more children, they find it difficult to manage it. They tend to think that when they send their children into marriages, they are lessening the burden of taking care of the family. My advice to you girls is that, if your parents gave birth to you when they were young, it should not be the same to you because, you have the opportunity with the coming in of different organizations that offers awareness campaigns,” she said during the speech which followed after testimonies from some of the victims.
The community policing coordinator also emphasized on the penalties that one is subjected to if found on the wrong side of the law.
In an interview, one of the victims said she failed her standard eight exams and was told to get married after she was impregnated by her boyfriend.
She added that she was lacking basic necessities and there are many problems that girls meet when they are married or impregnated.
“I accepted the boy because he was providing other essentials which were not being met by my parents. When I found out that I am pregnant, my parents couldn’t do anything but send me to where the guy was staying. Thanks to the coming in of other organizations who took me from the marriage and advised me to go back to school and now I am in Standard 8,” said the girl who was proud to be in school again.