Zomba chiefs formulate by-laws to end child marriages

By Chikondi Kasichi

Chiefs in the area of Senior chief Malemia in Zomba district have teamed up in fighting against early marriages.

The traditional leaders have formulated by-laws aimed at eradicating early marriages which have been on increase in the area.

The child related by-laws are among other things barring parents from forcing or allowing their girl children to enter into marriages.

Senior chief Malemia said the newly formulated by-laws will assist to end the tendency of some parents who force children to drop out of school and enter into marriages in the area.

He said his chiefs will be working hand in hand with all stakeholders in the implementation of the bylaws to ensure that children are protected from forced early marriages and related child abuses.

“We had challenges previously in dealing with early marriage cases and child abuse because we were doing it on our own. We now thought it wise to engage other stakeholders like police, Community Based Organisation, youth network, courts and district Social welfare which will provide the guidance on how best to deal with the cases,” said Senior chief Malemia.

The formulation of by-laws meeting which brought together Community members, chiefs, police, CBOs and district Social welfare among others agreed that any parent who will be allowing children to get married will pay a fine of two goats which is equivalent to K50, 000.

Zomba district Social welfare officer Christopher Ndaona applauded chiefs in the area for coming up with this initiative aimed at ending child marriages and any form of child abuse.

Ndaona said traditional leaders in the district are currently doing well in child protection citing an example of those of traditional authority Mwambo where similar by-laws are helping to protect children from any abuse.

Executive director for Tikondwe CBO which is implementing a project aiming at ending child marriages Peter Chipala said ignorance, cultural beliefs, and poverty are some of the contributing factors in child marriages.

Chipala urged chiefs in the area to be on forefront in sensitising their subjects on dangers of child marriages.

The CBO which is supporting the formulation, launch and implementation of the bylaws will bring all stakeholders including court to sign agreement form of child protection bylaws.

Tikondwe CBO is implementing a 3-year project to end child marriage with support of about K52 Million from United States of America based organisation called Firelight foundation.