People of Group Village Head (GVH) Chinzezeta in Traditional Authority Chimutu in Lilongwe have ganged up to fight child marriages in a quest to advance community development.

Speaking on Thursday, GVH Chinzezeta said apart from enforcing the by-laws, they have intensified implementation of community initiative called ‘go back to school’ to reduce illiteracy levels escalated by school drop outs.

“In all 66 villages under my control, it is heavily punishable to marry girls before reaching 18 years.

“Peer pressure, poverty and bad cultural practices are some of the reasons this area used to register early marriages and pregnancies,” GVH Chinzezeta said.

Network for Youth Development (NfYD), Oxfam and Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) have partnered in the implementation of ‘Her Future her Choice’ Project, which is helping in civic education.

NfYD’s Project Officer, Sekanawo Mwatibu, said the organization wants to promote sexual and reproductive health rights so that it stimulates girl child education in response to addressing gender based violence (GBV).

“Spending more time in school reduces chances of early marriages which [if tolerated] work hostile to healthy living, and puts pressure on the economy and environment,” she said.

Nalikule Ward Councilor of Lilongwe North East Constituency, Belifa Chisapo, appealed for more players to help in the fight against GBV which she said is very common.

“Early marriages have worsened gender based violence in this area, because of child marriages as they keep on changing marriage partners.

“Apart from dropping out from school, early marriages also propel sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

Farison Moses, 18, a form 3 student at Chiwamba Community Day Secondary School, discouraged the youth from using drugs and indulging in early marriages to prevent worsening poverty.

“Most of our friends marry because of peer pressure, but I condemn such kind of activity because it puts your future to a dead end,” he said.

One of the girls, Mathilda Chipeni 16, said most men above their ages force girls to indulge in sexual intercourse with them in exchange of money and materials.

She added that parental negligence on child caring has forced many girls to fall in the trap of early sexual activities putting their lives in danger.

“I plead with parents to try their best to provide for the needs of the girls to prevent them from falling into early sexual relationships in exchange for money.

“Girls are not brides. I, therefore, appeal to female role models to come here and do career guidance lessons in order to motivate many girls into taking education seriously,” she said.

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