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Chief Kachindamoto has stopped 850 child marriages and sent the girls back to school

Last updated: 14.04.2016 // During the last three years, Senior Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto of the Dedza-district in Malawi has travelled from village to village to annul and inform about the negative effects that child marriages have. She has also banned the harmful practices of sexual initiations of young girls.

Chief Kachindamoto worked as a Secretary for 27 years, before she took over as Senior Chief after her father.  She has now been Senior Chief for 13 years for over 1 million people and has six chiefs that report to her. She considers child marriages an outdated tradition, which is harmful for the child itself and for Malawi. Tradition shows  that when a girl gets married she drops out of school and moves from her family to her husband’s house, where her assignment is to take care of the household and her children. “This is a negative cycle, which have existed far too long”, says Chief Kachindamoto.

She is now asking Parliament to set the minimum age of marriage from 18 to 21 years old, in an effort for girls to have more time to finish their education, as well as an effort to break the cycle of rural poverty.

In 2014, Malawi’s Parliament passed a law prohibiting marriage before the age of 18. However, according to customary law that the traditional authorities often follow, and also the Constitution, Malawian children can still be married at 16 with parental consent.

In Malawi, early marriages are strongly interlinked with parents’ difficult economic situation. Due to poverty, the children can be seen as the family’s only resource. When a girl is married away, her family will receive dowry like a cow or a goat. At the same time, the earlier the girl is married, she no longer is an economic liability to her family.  Child marriages can even take place with girls as young as 12-13 years of age.

 

Relevant information:

In Dedza District, the Royal Norwegian Embassy supports several development programmes. One of these are the Joint Programme for Girls Education, financed by Norway and implemented by the UN – UNICEF, UNDFPA and WFP, where one of the components is to bring girls who have been married or pregnant back to school. For more information read the agreement here

Another programme is the Enhancing Community Resilience Programme, which Norway together with Irish Aid and DfID finances. For more information about the programme, read the agreement here 


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