A display by kids on Day of African Child on June 16
By Linda Likomwa, MANA
The concerns and abhorrence of early marriages has come from non other than the the girl child herself in Chiradzulu, who have asked parents and local leaders not to facilitate this tendency.
This was observed during the continuation of the commemoration of the Day of the African Child at Ndunde Primary School on Friday where the girl child singled out early marriages as one of the challenges the district is facing.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated on June 16 and this year’s was launched in style by President Lazarus Chakwera in Mangochi.
One of the girl child in Chiradzulu, Limbani Patrick, a Form 3 student at Nakhundi Community Day Secondary School, said some of the child marriages happening in the district were being influenced by local leaders and parents.
“The rights of children are being violated through early marriages, child labour and sexual harassment,” she said. “This day should, therefore, make our parents and local leaders aware that they are not supposed to allow child marriages.
“Churches should also not bless these marriages in an attempt to end the malpractice in the district.”
The student observed that due to poverty, some children were being driven into commercial sex work, alleging that a day cannot pass without reports of sexual harassment in the district.
Speaking earlier, a representative of the District Education Manager for Chiradzulu, Ruth Chibani said the education sector was working with different partners to improve the learning environment and welfare of learners in schools.
“Some of the partners working in the district provide maize flour for school feeding programme, learning materials, uniforms, paying school fees, constructing toilets and changing rooms for girls.
“In addition, others are drilling boreholes so that learners have all the basic needs for their education.”
Chibani added that the education office also monitors teachers in schools to make sure that they deliver high quality education.
“The monitoring is done to ensure education is provided to all without looking at their culture or religion; that they also enroll children with visual and hearing impairment at Mary View and Montfort demonstration schools so that no child is left behind,” she said.
Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) District Operations Officer, Lucy Nthala advised the children to ensure they know their rights and duties to defend the same — adding that her organisation would continue to fight for children’s rights.
On his part, Senior Chief Kadewere asked his subjects to stop child abuse and look after each child so that they grow to their full potential.
He also asked teachers to desist from corporal punishment to the children.
Director of Administration for Chiradzulu District Council, Ellestina Mmame admitted that the district had registered an increase in defilement cases, saying the Council was working towards ending the malpractice through traditional leaders and other partners.
Mmame said the Council would like to eradicate early marriages and pregnancies which she said were forcing children to drop out from school.
On the day itself in Mangochi, President Chakwera called on all Malawians to ensure that children in the country are fully protected from all types of abuse which they face in the society.
The President, who officially launched Early Childhood Development Advocacy Campaign, said if the country is to achieve the Agenda 2040, which aims at fostering an Africa fit for children, then it has to start from the homes where the children live.
““When our homes are safe and fit for the child, our villages, schools, areas, districts and the whole country will be fit for the child,” the President said.
As a country, he continued, all policies, laws and legal instruments should revolve around the child as a priority before they focus on adults. He said the latter are the first to break the very laws that they make.
He observed that most of the abuses that children undergo are perpetrated in homes by people who are supposed to protect the child.
Chakwera also strongly condemned the ‘criminal’ tendency that some people have of shielding perpetrators of child and sexual abuses.
“We need to hold hands in exposing perpetrators of child abuse; this tendency of shielding them must stop if we are to ensure total protection and safety for our children.”