The clergy have commended the approach by some men in Traditional Authority Makanjira in Mangochi to take lead in ensuring that girls are protected from child or early marriages in the district.
The group, which comprises 35 men aged between 25 and 50, is going around the villages in Senior Group Village Makanjira with awareness messages on why it is important to protect the girls from early pregnancies and child marriages.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency, Child Protection Committee Chairperson in Makanjira, Juke Moyenda who happens to be leading the men, said they decided to employ the intervention after seeing that men are the reason the girls are dropping out of school.
“We got trained by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) on the evils of child marriages and why it is important to protect girls in our communities.
“We think that without boys and men, we could not be talking about early pregnancies and marriages, hence the focus on them with the messages,” Moyenda said.
Another member of the men’s force, Frank Yusuf said they normally target men with sensitisation messages on why they need to stop taking advantage of girls in the area.
“Bearing in mind that men love soccer, we use such events to bring a lot of men together and have a platform where we can reach out to them with messages on why they have to protect the girl child as well as encourage them to continue with their education.
“We also reach out to them at the graveyards whenever we are digging graves, and so far, we have made impact. Men now in the area are slowly changing their mindset by taking girls as children and not brides.
In addition, Omar Katuli who is also Youth Community Based Distribution Agent, said as a group, they also go door to door in providing awareness as well as condoms to men and boys in the villages.
“All this is to help mitigate early pregnancies and HIV/AIDS contraction because most girls are forced into child marriages after falling pregnant. With these, we know that we are playing a part in minimising the incidents.
Qudria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM) Publicity Secretary, Sheikh Jaffar Kawinga, commended the approach taken by the men, saying they have a huge role to play in ending child marriages as they are placed above by Allah to make the world more governable.
“Therefore, men have got more responsibility in taking lead in fighting the vice; since Allah has placed him (man) above, in order to make the world governable.
“Communities are formed from marriages where by men as stated in Quran and other scriptures to lead the role of making these communities more bearable in terms resources and governance,”said Kawinga.
Secretary General for Blantyre Synod of the CCAP, Reverend Alex Maulana added that as leaders of the church, men indeed have the responsibility of enforcing the laws of the country on when a child should marry.
“Men are leaders in churches, as such; they are supposed to take the mantle in by even teaching others on the importance of protecting girls in their communities.
Maulana noted that the clergy can also use their days of worship to preach on the topic so that a lot of people can get the messages.
President of the Seventh Day Adventist Union in Malawi, Pastor Frankson Kuyama concurred with Maulana that one of the primary roles of men in the Bible is to provide leadership, meaning that a biblically based man should know how to influence his family towards going the right direction.
“As a leader, every man in a family is there to provide support, protection and guidance. Now, in this context, I am suggesting that men should give protection to their children from any danger. They should support their children to do well in their education.
“Men are there to give good guidance and direction in marriage decision. If their children, especially young girls are opting to go into early marriages they should give good guidance and direction. They are there to discourage children from early marriages,” he said.
Kuyama said the high cases of young girls getting into early marriages is because most men do not take their leadership role seriously, leaving the responsibility to women.
“My appeal to all men is to please, provide guidance to your children. Provide relevant education to your children. Discourage them from going into early marriages,” Kuyama said.