Communities in Likuni, Lilongwe have formulated by-laws to protect underage girls from early pregnancies and marriages.
During a meeting, chiefs in the areas said they formulated the by-laws to contain the high incidences of early marriages and pregnancies, which have forced a lot of girls below the age of 18 out of school.
Under the new by-laws, to be enforced in conjunction with police, parents who neglect their children—failing to send them to school or forcing them into marriage—will be fined three goats.
Group village head Kuthindi said in an interview that there are thousands of cases relating to early marriages and child pregnancies because many parents do not care for their children.
He said: “If we go around the communities, we will find many young, pregnant girls. The problem is big; hence, formulation of the by-laws we think will bring sanity.”
On his part, group village head Mbembedza said many girls in his area in Traditional Authority Maliri are prone to sexual abuse because of poverty.
He said with assistance from Matapa Youth Club, communities developed a number of laws to ensure that girls are protected from unwanted pregnancies and continue with education.
The communities are also considering other options such as having bars closed by 9pm and forcing parents to have their girl children home by 6pm.
In a separate interview, Centre for Environment Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) programmes officer Tiwonge Chirwa, whose organisation was influential in the development of the by-laws, said such by-laws empower the youth.