Looking at the issue of child marriage, some of the questions I have are: What is the problem with marriage that everybody is focusing on? What does such legislation have in terms of pregnancies?
If the young ones are not protected from HIV, do they need protection from early marriage because they would die in labour or have fistula?
Does making someone marry at less than 21 allow them complete school?
What measures has government put in place to ensure that girls complete their education? How many get enrolled in our public universities from Chididi or Mpherembe?
I feel this is just euphoria to be seen that we are doing something when we are doing nothing. I do not think international chatters that put the marriage age at 18 did it from the blues. Research was done.
Change has to be gradual.
I know organizations that are doing a commendable job lobbying custodians of culture to raise the age to 18 and I do not think raising it to 21 is the best thing to do. It is like jumping three metres high and suddenly you want to jump 10 meters.
So many children drop out of school even with free primary education.
How many students does the University of Malawi enroll in a year for someone who has finished secondary school aged 16 and instead of waiting for two years, she or he has to wait for five years to get married when the chance to go to college may never come?
First of all, before we start thinking of laws that are seemingly impossible and off-track, think about how these laws will be enforced.
I would suggest that we first support our children to go to school.
Even if we marry at 21, does this eliminate the risk that comes with maternal issues? Okay, they are matured so they can deliver as many babies? What is our fertility rate? What dangers do women face in a country they are expected to deliver six babies from the age of 21?
I am sure many of those people we call rich are those that have been to school to a certain level.
Fighting child marriage is the best that we can do in as far the modern world is concerned, but let us not get excited by making laws that will also be infringing on their human rights. Eighteen works better and do not mean that everybody will marry at 18.