There should be strong political will in the fight against early marriages to protect the girl child from perpetual poverty, says Senior Chief Madzimawe
Chief Madzimawe said the drive to stop child marriages must be fought from the top leadership in the country to give it the importance it deserved.
He was speaking in response to PF presidential candidate Edgar Lungu’s sentiments on ending child marriages because of their negative effects on the development of the nation.
“It is important that presidential hopefuls are talking about the ills of early marriages and it will give our people some insights on how they are going to work towards fighting it once elected. I am personally happy to hear about it,” he said.
The traditional ruler said it was great relief to have politicians on board in the fight against child marriages because of their positions as law- makers.
He said the biggest hindrance was the disparities in the law over the legal definition of a child.
Chief Madzimawe, who is an ambassador against child marriage, expressed concern on the discrepancy in age according to the law, saying “some of the biggest drawbacks are in the law include the various age descriptions of a child from 16 years, 18 and 21 years respectively.”
“There is need to harmonize the law to support this fight because currently we are handicapped when we have to refer to the law which has three different ages of who a child is.
“We do not seem to be winning because of the age disparities. When the girl is 17 years, she is underage for marriage under one law but qualified under another, and sometimes we just need to use our discretion as chiefs to impose a stop to the marriages to promote the development of a girl child,” he said.
He explained that the problem of early marriages was cross-cutting from an individual’s health and personal development to the effects in the family development and ultimately the national economy.
The chief also attributed the problem of child marriages to the high illiteracy levels in rural areas where most parents did not understand the need to support girl child education against traditional norms and practices.
There have been increased reports of child marriages especially in rural areas where young girls are being forced into early marriages mainly because of poverty.