Dowa parents withdrawing girls from child marriages
By Vincent Gunde
Following the good news that a community organization which is led by girls, Teams Advancing Women in Agriculture [TAWINA] is doing rescuing girls from early and child marriages in the area of Inkosi Mkukula in Dowa district, parents and guardians have joined the initiative withdrawing girls wherever they have entered into marriages.
TAWINA involved the police of Lumbadzi in rescuing a – standard 6 girl, Madalo Banda [ not her real name] of Chibvala school who was married through a wedding ceremony initiated by a Pastor of the Last Church and this has brought fears among families whose daughters have entered into child and early marriages that the police will come again for their daughters.
Parents are following their daughters withdrawing from marriages to avoid being laughed at by the people as evidenced with what happened when police and TAWINA came at Chapaza village in the area of Group Village headman Basikete to rescue Madalo Banda and her husband, who had to spend a night in the hands of the police.
TAWINA’s Field Facilitator, Aness Banda said 3 girls who went into early marriages in the same area have been withdrawn by their parents saying this is a remarkable achievement not only to the organization but the girl child of the area.
Banda said the girls were married in 2019 when they were 17 years old at Chapaza, Chibvala and Bementhe villages in the area saying the community also witnessed the withdrawn from marriage of a -23 year old girl, a form 3 student of Bementhe village through force from her parents to go back to school once schools reopen and write MSCE Form 4 Examinations next year.
……’’Over 20 girls have been withdrawn from marriages while the other 20 teen mothers have been equipped with income generating activities,’’ said Aness Banda.
The Facilitator said Mr. Chaguza Banda of Chiyanjano Anti – Marriage Committee, a male champion for the area together with the village chiefs are following up wherever they have been tipped that there is a child family marriage in a campaign to end early marriages and teenage pregnancies in the area.
But, speaking recently during a commemoration marking Day of African Child, TAWINA organized in the area of Group Village headman Kanyambo, Inkosi Mkukula, promised to work hand in hand with the village chiefs in Anti – Marriages Committee by –laws formulated to end child and early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
In her remarks, Project Director for Campaign Against Child Marriage [ CMAC], Tawina Jane Kopa – Kamanga, said the project started in July, 2019 and is ending in December, this year with the objectives of empowering girls and communities to resist child, early and forced marriage, to advance the rights and well- being of rural girls, and to enhance financial capacity of rural households to better meet the needs of school girls.
On sustainability measures, Kopa – Kamanga said the project will leave behind community structures like Mkukula Leaders and Anti – Child Marriage Committees to carry on with the efforts which are being seen in the area, saying the project has facilitated establishment of a local level child marriage response mechanism which will ensure continuity of the project’s activities after December, 2020.
According to statistics presented recently by the District Director of Education, Youth and Sports for Dowa, Christopher Kumikundi, 95 girls are reported to be pregnant, 234 have gone into early marriages and 23 boys have married from March when Government announced school closure due to Covid – 19 pandemic.