Malawi: World Vision has pleaded with Malawians to stop using culture as a tool for abusing children through marriages and other initiation ceremonies.
Marko Ngwenya, WVM National Director, made this call in Machinga district as World Vision and other Non Governmental Organisations joined the Malawi Government in commemorating the day of the African Child at Chamba Primary School.
The man at the helm of WV said that through their interaction with communities where they work, their organisation has learnt that though child marriages are influenced by different factors in different societies, some of which touch on poverty and culture itself, the impact is the same.
“We have learnt a number of things as we have interfaced with communities. We have learnt that while local cultures and traditions influence the way child marriage is practiced in different regions, the causes and consequences are universal,” said Marko.
He also said that girls that have been married off in this way find it hard to find space in the societal strata as they cannot identify with their fellow children, or join the bigger women in society.
“We need to make a commitment today here in Malawi to let children be children. They want to go to school, and that is what loving parents and communities should do,” said Ngwenya.
This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme; ‘Eliminating harmful social cultural and economic practices affecting our children; everyone’s responsibility’
In her brief remarks, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Anita Kalinde said that her government was committed to eradicating all practices that are impinging on Children’s well being, hence compromising their ability to realize God-given talents in full.
“Marrying off young children equals murder to me. When our girls come of age it doesn’t mean that they are old enough. Not even when they go through those initiation ceremonies does it mean that they are ready for marriage” said honourable Kalinde.
Malawi is one of the worst places to live one’s life as a child as it is said that 50 percent of all children are married off before they reach 18. In Africa, they are on position seven from the bottom.
Speaking at the same event, Traditional Authority Chamba, in whose jurisdiction the commemoration was held, pleaded with the Minister to convince his fellow parliamentarians and pass the ‘Labour and Tenancy Bill’ which he said would lower or eliminate problems of Child Labour in the country.
“Parliament has been turning down the Tenancy Bill. Please honourable minister, this is our opportunity, help us pass it this time to rescue our children being abused in the estates and fishing grounds,” said the local leader.
The day of the African Child came into being in memory of Children who were killed in South Africa in their pursuit for democracy and independence from the Apartheid regime.
In Malawi, the commemorations brought together all Civil Society Organizations working for the well being of the child and the Government to reaffirm their commitment to the child.
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