East accounts for most child marriages

THE Eastern Province last year recorded the highest number of school drop-outs and child marriages in the country, accounting for 58 percent of the national figure.
According to Vubwi district Commissioner Enelesi Banda, out of the over 16,000 girls who got pregnant and forced into marriages countrywide, Eastern Province recorded about 9,280, representing 58 percent.
She said this during the commemoration of Day of the African Child organised by Plan International-Zambia in Vubwi on Tuesday under the theme, ‘Let children be children, stop child marriages now’.
At the same function, Plan, in conjunction with Chief Pembamoyo, launched a booklet which discourages child marriages in chiefdoms in Vubwi and Chadiza.
“It is sad the province is leading in child marriages in Zambia with a record of 58 percent, a trend that should be stopped by chiefs and all stakeholders,” she said.
Ms Banda said the 2007 Zambia demography and health survey indicates that out of the 1,000 births, about 100 babies belong to mothers under the age of 20.
She said the vice should be rooted out in communities so that children are not turned into brides.
Chief Pembamoyo said time has come to end child marriages and those found wanting will be punished by the law.
He warned that any parent or headman found perpetuating the vice will be dealt with by police.
He commended Plan International for establishing a chief’s declaration on ending child marriages booklet, which spelt out laws and regulations in curbing the vice in Vubwi and Chadiza.
Plan child protection co-ordinator Katongo Mwansa also called for an end to child marriages as they rob children of their right to education.
He said there is need to revisit the Marriage Act, which currently seems to empower parents to consent to child sexual exploitative practices such as child marriages.

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