‘Lockdown set to fuel child marriages’

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MAILMASTER Subject: malawi On 2014-01-30, at 1:00 PM, Jennifer Yang wrote: Mary Anderson lives in Mweneya, a village in southern Malawi, and already has two children and two ex-husbands at the age of 20. Malawi is one of the worst countries in the world for child marriages and an average of one in two Malawian girls marry by their 18th birthday. Jennifer Yang/Toronto Star photo.JPG

A CHIKANGWE High School Upper six student in Karoi has warned that the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown, which cut household incomes impoverishing many families, would result in increased child marriages.

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI

Science student Melisa Denhere, presenting her paper at the schools responsive programme launched by Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema in Karoi recently, said government should ensure all children continue with their learning during lockdown by providing requisite materials.

“COVID-19 has disrupted households and stressed caregivers. Not forgetting the girl child, where cases of child marriages and child labour are likely to rise,” she noted, adding that families facing hardships would be forced “to marry off their daughters” to better off households.

“To our government, we are kindly urging you to prioritise efforts to continue education for all children during and after the temporary closure by making it accessible to all, using all available technology including radio and television broadcasts, telephones, computers, secure text messaging apps or other measures including printed materials.”

Shamwari Yemwanasikana research, communication and advocacy officer Louis Tatswareyi said ingrained poverty was forcing many underage girls into marriages.

Katswe Sistahood director Talent Jumo said family incomes had been eroded by the lockdown, coupled with the sudden hike in prices of basic commodities.

“It is a fact that in the ghetto, some adolescent girls are forced to hustle for money to feed the family and in the event that they fall pregnant, there is no choice but marriage,” she said, adding that rising poverty levels were the major push factor in child marriages.

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