A 14-year-old boy in the southern Malawi district of Chikhwawa abandoned his dream of becoming a police officer to marry his 13-year-old girlfriend in a traditional engagement ceremony.
However, the marriage was on Wednesday dissolved after the Centre for Children Affairs, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) operating in the area, confronted parents of both minors.
According to the NGOâ€™s executive director Moses Busher, the parents of the Standard 5 dropout boy and the Standard 3 dropout girl consented to the marriage which, according to the law, is illegal. Minors can only get married at the age of 16 with consent from parents.
The â€œtwo love birdsâ€ met while they were learning at a local primary school which has only four classes. The boy is said to have dropped out of school when he was required to travel over five kilometres to another primary school for his Standard 5.
He claimed he married his â€œsweetheartâ€ because he wanted to protect the girlÂ afterÂ noting that her parents beat her whenever he was in contact with her.
Said the boy in an interview: â€œI did not like the way they treated the girl. Every time they used to beat her because of me. So, if it were you, what could you do?â€
â€˜I loved himâ€™
The girl said she was driven into the early marriage because of love and emphasised that she has no regrets for dooming her ambition of becoming a nurse.
Said the girl: â€œI accepted him because I love him. We decided to marry because we had been having sex in hiding for a long time and why should we worry?
â€œI donâ€™t regret any more marrying him. I was going to school because I wanted to become a nurse but now, I donâ€™t want to become a nurse anymore because marriage is better.â€
The girlâ€™s mother said they were annoyed with the marriage but their efforts to separate the two proved futile as they seemed to love each other.
â€œI have for some time been beating my daughter as a punishment, but it has never worked but with your [NGO] coming, I am very happy and I hope you will assist us,â€ said the mother.
The father of the boy said: â€œWe had nothing to object after the two loved each other. What else could we do? We just processed their marriage and they are now married. I am keeping them in my house.â€
Busher said his organisation is happy that after their intervention, the marriage has ended. He said the two will be monitored to ensure that they do not get back to each other.
â€œIt is against the law in Malawi to have these two married and we will be coming here every week to see the progress of this and we want the boy and the girl to go back to school as soon as possible,â€ said Busher.
Chikhwawa district social welfare officer Rosemary Mahata said her office will be visiting the two childrenâ€™s families.
Said Mahata: â€œThese things happen and the action we take is to dissolve the marriage. I should be visiting the families any time to sit down with the two and also their parents and brief them about the law and the dangers of early marriages.â€