Community leaders in Senior Chief Mwakaboko in Karonga have teamed up to form by-laws to enhance the fight against gender-based violence (GBV).
Speaking on Tuesday at Ngisi Primary School at the end of a two-day community training on gender laws, group village head Mwandambo said they were committed to ending GBV in the area.
He said: “The by-laws will place fines for parents who marry off their children.
“They will also empower other community structures such as community policing forums, mother groups and women forums to terminate child marriages.”
The chief blamed poverty and some harmful cultural practices for the rise in GBV cases in the area.
On her part, Ngisi Primary School Mother Group chairperson Taona Kayuni commended Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) for the training.
“We face resistance from parents whose children have been married off or trafficked to Tanzania for labour. However, the training has equipped us with knowledge on how we can intervene in such situations,” she said.
Kayuni said they will sensitise community members to the dangers of child marriages and GBV.
“Despite the resistance, we have withdrawn seven girls from child marriages and brought home five girls from Tanzania,” she said.
Karonga first grade magistrate Julius Kalambo conducted the community leaders through Child Care Protection and Justice Act, Marriage and Divorce Act and Trafficking in Persons Act.
In his remarks, EAM Timazge Nkhaza project coordinator Dumisani Nungu said they want to protect girls, women and people with albinism who are susceptible to GBV.
“People now know where to report GBV cases and thelaws that punish perpetrators,” he said.
With funding from the Norwegian Church Aid, EAM is running Timazge Nkhaza in in traditional authorities Mwakaboko, Kilupula and Kyungu in the district.