Marry off girls at 23 or face punishment

Early marriage child mother.

MWILA NTAMBI, Mwinilunga
SENIOR Chief Sailung’a of the Lunda people of Mwinilunga says parents who will be found marrying off their female children below the age of 23 in his area will be punished.

Speaking during the handover of six new classrooms at Lumwana West Secondary School on Wednesday, the traditional leader said parents should focus on sending their girl children to school instead of marrying them off at a tender age.
Other new infrastructure which were handed over at the school include two staff houses, two early childhood education classrooms, an ablution block, boreholes and a mechanised water system.
The infrastructure was built by Elizabeth Boers Foundation Zambia Education Fund in conjunction with World Vision Zambia at a cost of K3.9 million.
Senior Chief Sailung’a was speaking in a speech read for him by Martha Sampanyayi, a pupil at Lumwana West Secondary School.
The traditional leader said it was resolved during a meeting he held with village headmen in his area recently that any parent who marries off a female child aged below 23 should be punished.
Without specifying the type of punishment which will be meted out against erring parents, Senior Chief Sailung’a said times have changed and everyone should strive to be educated.
“This is a generation of educated people. We cannot afford to be marrying off our girls at the expense of empowering them with education,” he said.
The chief also thanked Government and co-operating partners like World Vision Zambia for their efforts in developing his chiefdom.
He said his ancestors waited for development for many years and that it is now gratifying to see it finally being delivered.
Senior Chief Sailung’a urged his subjects to jealously guard the school infrastructure against vandalism.
He said malicious damage to property is a criminal offence and anyone found damaging school infrastructure in the chiefdom will face the wrath of the law.
And speaking earlier, World Vision Zambia deputy national director Chikondi Phiri said the organisation is concerned about the high number of girls currently dropping out of school in the chiefdom due to pregnancies.
In a speech read for him by Zambia Reading for Education and Development technical programme manager Maureen Simunchembu, Mr Phiri said current statistics show that at least three in 10 girls drop out of school in the chiefdom after getting pregnant.
“We therefore request the traditional leadership and Government authorities to urgently put measures and penalties in place to bring this issue to a complete stop,” he said.
Mr Phiri also said World Vision Zambia is ready to work with stakeholders such as traditional leaders in ending child marriage and violence against children.

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