A study by Mulanje District Social Welfare Office has shown that the number of young girls that got pregnant and entered into early marriages due to Covid-19 is not as high as the district once feared.
The study concentrated on cases registered from March through July, 2020 a period in which schools were closed due to the pandemic, to find out the extent of child marriages and early pregnancies in light of Covid-19.
According to the findings, the district that normally witnesses 80 percent of its girls enter early marriages before the age of 18 registered 1,832 cases, of which 936 are child marriages and 896 are early pregnancies.
The study shows that about 1,319 children that got pregnant and entered early marriages are those that are in primary schools especially in standard 5 through standard 8.
Speaking during the presentation of the study report before the District Executive Committee (DEC) on Thursday, the Assistant District Social Welfare Officer, Noel Chambo expressed relief on the findings of the study.
He said the district feared the study would expose high figures of child marriages and early pregnancies considering that the district already takes lead in cases of early child marriages in the country.
“There were a lot of rumours that the district had registered high numbers of child marriages and early pregnancies but we had no tangible information and reliable numbers to dispel those rumours; as such we had to conduct this survey.
“Looking at the figures our neighbouring districts like Phalombe registered, we were afraid we could surpass them; so it is a relief that the study has shown that it is not the case here,” he said.
Chambo added that government and developmental partners can now develop necessary interventions towards children during this period based on the study findings.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Representative, Vinjeru Kacheche said lack of data of the previous trend cases of child marriages and early pregnancies in the study.
“Even though we have a clear picture of the cases during the said period but the study has failed to compile the trend of the same cases during the past years which we could use to compare with the figures found in the study,” she said.
The Study showed that of the 10 Traditional Authorities (TAs) and Sub Traditional Authorities (STAs).
TA Chikumbu registered more cases of child marriages and early pregnancies and the area has 237 child marriages and 102 pregnancies.