Ministry of Gender calls for concerted efforts to end child marriages

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Ministry of Gender

The Ministry of Gender has called for a concerted effort among stakeholders to end issues of child marriages in the country.

Minister responsible Jean Sendeza said this today in Dowa during a stakeholders meeting organized by Girls Not Brides Malawi focusing on interventions that can assist in addressing the problem.

Sendeza added that most young people are marrying below the age of 18 which is against the country’s constitution. 

Chairperson for Girls Not Brides Malawi Faith Phiri, says poverty and cultural norms are some of the driving forces fueling the malpractice.

Early marriage seriously harms the development and wellbeing of girls, through limited education and employment opportunities, social isolation, domestic violence and rape. Girls are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, and early pregnancy.

If your child starts complaining about their spouse, offer to help them both in whatever ways you can. Offer to help pay for counselling if you have the financial means to do so. Encourage but set a firm boundary letting your child know that complaining about their spouse won’t solve the issue.

Malawi outlawed marrying a girl who is below 18 years. However, the practice persists because of strong traditional norms, as well as the failure to enforce existing laws.

Child marriage is a marriage or domestic partnership, formal or informal, between a child and an adult, or between a child and another child. Although the age of majority (legal adulthood) and marriage age are typically 18 years old, these thresholds can differ in different jurisdictions.

Recently, the Parliament of Malawi adopted a law that, for the very first time, sets the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18 years old. The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill has been hailed as a step forward for Malawi, where 50% of girls are married off before 18.

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