People under Paramount Chief M’mbelwa in Mzimba have formulated by-laws to protect children from early marriages, abuses and promote their education.
Village heads, community leaders and villagers under the Chief drafted the by-laws which have since been endorsed by Paramount Chief M’mbelwa V and M’mbelwa district commissioner (DC) Thomas Chirwa.
Among other by-laws, parents forcing children into marriage will be liable to pay a fine of a cow while the child will be withdrawn and allowed to return to school.
Speaking during the launch of the by-laws on Thursday, Paramount Chief M’mbelwa V said the laws seek to promote education as key in keeping children away from early marriages.
He said, among other reasons, early and forced marriages are rampant in the district due to poverty.
“Some parents marry off their children as they want to benefit from lobola (dowry) before they die.
“We are sensitising people to know that they can benefit more from the girl if she is educated than the lobola they get by forcing her into marriage,” he said.
Paramount Chief M’mbelwa also said by promoting education, they hope to retain their past glory when Mzimba District was ranked best in education.
“In the past, Mzimba was number one in terms of education. We want to go back to that position,” he said.
The by-laws have been formulated with support from Word Alive Ministries International and World Vision Malawi.
M’mbelwa Council director of planning and development Tamanya Harawa said migration to South Africa fuels early child marriages in the district.
Word Alive Commission for Relief and Development director Patricia Semphere said they supported the initiative to uplift lives of children. n