Apart from Covid-19, it has also been revealed today Tuesday in Neno that lack of bursaries, geographical location of some areas, gender based violence and cyber space abuse are some of the factors fueling the sharp rise in cases of teen pregnancies and marriages.
Neno district civil society Chairperson Russell Msiska said that most teen girls are getting pregnant as they cannot afford education due to poverty and at times lack of full primary school within their reach.
“Covid-19 should not be blamed much as it has just opened our eyes on what has been happening on the ground pertaining to teen pregnancies. Our girls are facing numerous challenges to access quality education such as lack of school fees and access to bursaries”, he said.
Msiska said for example girls in hard to reach areas are being sidelined with information on reproductive health care and even services are not available making them vulnerable to early indulgence in unprotected sexually activities.
Executive director for a local organization Community Action for Sustainable Development (CASDO) McPherson Chidakwa is of the view that girls should be given a priority in bursaries and be protected from harmful cultural beliefs that endanger their very right to education.
“There is a need to get rid of harmful cultural beliefs through dialogue with our chiefs so that they may ban some cultures that disadvantage the girl child within their jurisdictions. Economic empowerment is also key to end child marriages”, Said Chidakwa.
He notes that, with the coming of technology, some girls are being exposed to cyber bullying and this is making them vulnerable since counsel is not often found and cyber security law not fully being enforced.
Neno civil society organizations is also appealing to parents to take full responsibility of their wards as some parents are lacking parental guidance skills and leaving the burden on non-governmental organization to reorganize their children.
CASDO is receiving funding from Save the Children through NORAD, to implement activities aimed at fighting child marriages in Neno with focus on education, child rights and protection.