Early marriages as well as teenage pregnancies are still rampant and there is need for all stakeholders to put in their very best in order to discourage the scourge from worsening as people have continued to engage themselves in these bad acts, Chief Chikanta of the Tonga people of Southern Province has said.
He said there was need for traditional leaders to sensitize their subjects and take appropriate action on those who engaged themselves in such acts.
“In my chiefdom, we have tried to sensitize the people with my headmen and those who have defaulted have been punished by the Traditional Royal Council,” he said
“Depending on the case, we have some times managed to withdraw teenagers from marriages and if they are school-going children, we have taken them back to school, while punishing both the parents and the man who forced the girl into marriage,” he explained.
He said sometimes such events were reported to police so that offenders could be legally prosecuted.
The traditional leader also called for concerted efforts among traditional leaders and other stakeholders in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
He observed that there were still major challenges in the fight ranging from concealing of such cases as a result of promises of reward as well as lack of knowledge among the people.
He said he has since engaged his headmen to ensure that all his subjects were sensitized on the negative effects of early marriages and GBV but acknowledged that even after sensitization; there were people who still involved themselves in the vices.