GOVERNMENT has raised $65 million dollars for bursaries to support young girls whose parents cannot afford to pay their school fees, says Minister of Gender and Child Development Professor Nkandu Luo.
Prof Luo said lack of money to enable girls complete their education had forced many of them into early marriages and child prostitution.
She said the vice prompted government through her ministry to pass the child code bill to protect the rights of children.
Prof Luo said once the Bill was passed by parliament, it would go a long way in protecting the rights of the girl child particularly those below the age of eighteen.
She said the bill would also help young girls complete their education and report anyone who tried to force them into early marriage.
“Many people do not understand that children have a law that guards and protects their rights. That is why they mistreat them.
“It is therefore, important for people to understand that children especially girls have the right to education and should not be forced into early marriages,” she said
Prof. Luo said government was determined to ensure that the girl child was not forced into an early marriage and child prostitution.
“As government, we are dedicated to ensure that children are not forced into marriage or forced into prostitution by some irresponsible individuals who think they can do whatever they wish with children,’’ she said.
She said her government was targeting rural areas because statistics had shown that early marriages and child prostitution were common there. She partially attributed the high prevalence levels of the vice to some customary practices exercised.
Prof. Luo said that once the marriage bill was enacted, it would end the conflict between the customary and statutory laws on marriage.
“In the new proposed new Marriage Act it is very clear who should get married for it prohibits marriage for persons under the age of eighteen,” she said.
And Advocacy for Child Justice (ACJ) executive director Josphat Njovu said there was need for more stakeholders to join government and other organizations that were fighting early marriages and child prostitution.
Mr. Njobvu further said Zambia should speed up its law reform process so that they conformed to international standards of child protection against all forms of child injustices.