Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has given Traditional Chiefs and stakeholders in Karonga a 31 August deadline to dissolve all child marriages in the district.
The call comes amid the continuing rising cases of child marriages and teen pregnancies where so far Karonga has registered 261 child marriages since the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Speaking in an interview following a meeting with Traditional Leaders and Council Officials on Thursday in the district Kaliati, said it was sad to note that Malawi ranks 9th in Africa in terms of child marriages hence the ultimatum to reverse the trend.
She said one of the means of ending child marriages is the involvement of chiefs thus she challenged them to do more in ending the malpractice in their respective communities.
“Our wish is to see our girls and boys learn by staying at school longer so that once they are through with education they are better placed to make informed decisions of when to get married, how many children they want and what type of life they would want to live,” the Minister said.
She added that when a girl child is educated and is financially empowered she is better placed to fend for her family thus reducing issues of child marriages in the country.
Kaliati therefore warned parents and guardians not to marry off their under aged children saying government will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute them.
Reacting to the Minister’s task of dissolving all child marriages by Monday, Paramount Chief Kyungu, said while the task will be challenging the chiefs have welcomed the ultimatum with open arms.
“We are grateful for the task while it might be challenging we will do as much as possible to dissolve all child marriages by the time we have been given,” articulated the Paramount.