Livingstonia Synod Aids Programme (Lisap) has rescued about 300 girls from forced marriages in traditional authorities (T/As) Kilupula and Mwakawoko in Karonga.
The girls were rescued under the Boys and Girls Empowerment Project Lisap has been implementing in the past six years in four education zones of Iponga, Ighembe, Mwenitete and Nkhando.
Among other objectives, the project sought to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health and promote increased access to education for boys and girls in areas where harmful traditional practices are rampant.
In an interview after he presided over the handover ceremony of 141 bicycles to community members trained by the organisation at Ighembe, Lisap deputy director Lazarus Harawa said one of the project’s objectives has been achieved as over 300 girls have been withdrawn from early and forced marriages.
He said: “Karonga is one of the districts in the country where forced marriages are rampant and we are happy to see that our interventions have reduced cases of early marriages in the past three years.”
According to Harawa, at the beginning of the project there was resistance by communities as early marriages were a way of life in the two T/As. He said after awareness meetings, the communities began to change their mindset and joined in the fight for the girl child.
“We could not have over 300 girls withdrawn from early marriages and returned to school without mother and father groups,” said Harawa.