Communities at Nkhamenya in Kasungu have assured Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi (Fawema) that they will take issues of child marriages head on to keep girls in school.
Group village head Kasaka said this on behalf of other chiefs during this year’s International Day of the Girl Child celebrations held in the district on Friday.
Kasaka said a number of children, especially girls, do not go far with education because their parents or guardians force them into marriage at an early age.
“We have children of school going age who are in marriages now because their parents or guardians forced them. To combat this, we have put in place by-laws to ensure stiff punishment for chiefs and parents encouraging this,” he said.
The chief said, among the punitive measures, there are fines such as goats, chickens or hard cash as well as reporting such parents and chiefs to authorities for violating children’s rights.
Fawema Kasungu district coordinator Faith Chimwaza commended the communities for coming up with by-laws to punish parents and chiefs who oppress children especially girls.
She urged women groups elected and mandated to look after girls to be tough and incorruptible so that girls can enjoy their full rights and contribute to national development after attaining education.
She said: “Girls are as important as boys, as such, both need equal opportunities.” n