Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati said on Saturday the proposed new marriage bill, which among other things puts the minimum marriage age at 18, will be tabled in the National Assembly in January 2015.
Speaking when the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) launched a project to provide sexual and reproductive health to girls aged between 15 and 24 in Mulanje, Kaliati said the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill will be tabled when Parliament convenes.
Said Kaliati: “It is a necessary law to protect girls from early marriages that lead to a host of problems rooting from pregnancies at an early age and too many pregnancies.”
She urged traditional and local leaders to put in place by-laws against early marriages.
“In some areas, they fine parents who allow girls to drop out of school and get married,” she said.
YWCA president Mtisunge Kachingwe said the three-year project, funded by the Norwergian Agency for Development (Norad), will be carried out in three villages of Mbewa, Namatuni and Nankhonyo.
Said Kachingwe: “We found that many girls are dropping out of school due to early pregnancies, the HIV prevalence is so high, access to information on reproductive health is low. For once, we will create confidential safe places where girls will disclose and be counselled on problems they face.”