Thyolo Police Station child protection officer George Sinalo has urged girls in Thyolo to report sexual gender-based violence (SGBV).
He made the remarks last week during an awareness campaign for communities to uphold girls’ rights. Environmental Concerned Youth Association (Ecoya) organised the campaign at Namitete Primary School Ground in Traditional Authority (T/A) Nchiramwera in the district.
“Silence among communities perpetuates the abuse that foil girls’ rights. About 58 girls dropped out of Namitete Primary School this year due to child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“We understand some chiefs suppress the cases which frustrates efforts to eradicate the vice. So, girls must report the issues directly to police for law to take its course,” said Sinola.
He said according to Child Protection and Justice Act (2011), girls under 18 years of age should not be in marriage, saying perpetrators will be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment with hard labour.
In an interview, group village head Matchuwana singled out poverty as one of the causes of SGBV.
Ecoya project officer Austin Kunsida said they will intensify the campaigns on child rights in the district.
“We need a holistic approach to address the vice. Parents and guardians should know their responsibilities and authorities should discharge duties effectively to uphold girls’ rights,” he said.