Traditional leaders in Mchinji have called for stiff punishment for parents who force their children into early marriages.
The chiefs were speaking on Monday after viewing a Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) film The Child Within which explores the effects of early marriages and pregnancy from a child’s perspective.
In his remarks, Senior Chief Mkanda said it was sad that some parents force their girls into marriage after receiving gifts from suitors who later abandon the girls when they get pregnant.
“I call on parents to desist from forcing their children into early marriages but rather look for ways of finding resources for their children to go to school,” he said.
Mkanda said his area instituted bylaws and will punish such parents and all the men involved.
Acting Traditional Authority (T/A) Mduwa also said his area would use bylaws to help girls finish their education.
He said anyone who breaks the bylaws would be fined by the chief council.
Camfed district committee member Maudling Nhlema said the film was aimed at showing parents, traditional leaders, teachers and children effects of early marriages in the country.
“The film depicts the real life of four girls who were married early and got pregnant at the ages of 13 to 19. They later grapple with poverty,” he said.
Nhlema, who is also Mchinji district youth officer, said the film sought to make stakeholders aware that there is a Child Protection and Justice Act that protects children. n