Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says the fight against child marriages cannot be won unless perpetrators are given stiff penalties.
MHRC expressed concern over the increasing cases of child marriages in the country due to lack of punitive laws.
MHRC principal disability and elderly rights officer George Chiusiwa on Tuesday told Mzimba district Executive Committee during a meeting that there is no justice for the girls who are rescued from early marriages.
“In many cases, when a girl is rescued from marriage, the man is not punished. He can even marry another young girl. So rescuing the girl is just part of a solution. Perpetrators need to be arrested and given tough penalties,” he said.
Chiusiwa also said some men are HIV positive and they infect the young girls
Mzimba district social welfare officer Jim Wotchi said in an interview his office receives many reports about child marriages, adding that this year the office has already registered 18 cases involving 16 girls and two boys,” Wotchi said.
He said cultural beliefs and poverty force parents to marry off their daughters to get financial and material support from men.
“In Mzimba, many people work in South Africa and parents marry off their children to such men for financial support which puts the girls’ health at risk and ruins their future,” Wotchi said.