Government will continue to fine tune policies that deal with child marriages to ensure that they effectively protected the girl child from abuse by ensuring that perpetrators are not left scot-free, Minister of Youth and Sport Vincent Mwale has said.
And UNICEF has commended the Zambian government through the Ministry of Gender for its effort to end child marriage by developing the national strategy to end child marriage by 2030 which will be launched soon.
Mr Mwale said Government would remain committed to the fight for the protection and promotion of children’s rights..
Speaking during the media breakfast at the Southern Sun hotel yesterday ahead of the first ever African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriages to be held in Lusaka this week, Mr Mwale said government would take a leading role to ensure that the scourge was reduced further from the current 31 percent
“We shall also continue to review legislation pertaining to children to ensure that perpetrators of violence against children are given maximum sentences. The marriage Act, Gender Equality bill and the children’s code bill among the legislature, once formalised will protect our children, especially girls from child marriages and other related legislature,” Mr. Mwale said.
And UNICEF- Zambia representative Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim commended Zambia for its commitment to various areas that needed regional and global cooperation.
“We would like to thank the demonstration of commitment by the country to the issue of child marriages. Zambia hosted the AU regional training on ending child marriage in September, and is not preparing for 1000 guests to attend the AU Girls’ summit this month.
“Zambia is well aligned to regional and global, with the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals espousing a commitment to ‘eliminate all harmful practices, including early and forced marriages’ and the wider AU campaign,” Mr. Ibrahim said.
Meanwhile, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Mary Otieno said it was unacceptable that approximately 15 million girls who had not yet reached the acceptable age got married throughout the world every year.
Dr. Otieno said early marriages led to poverty because it hindered girls from education attainment and economic productivity.
“Early marriage and child-bearing increases fertility and hinders education attainment and economic productivity for women thus perpetrating a vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. Adolescent girls experience significantly higher maternal and infant morbidity and mortality as a result of early exposure to child bearing,” Dr. Otieno said.
The African Girls’ Summit which will be held this week at the Government Complex whose aim is to find solutions to ending child marriage in Africa, will highlighting significant problems affecting the girl child in Africa, as well as engendering the change that needs to happen to prevent the continuous violation of the rights of children.