POLICE in conjunction with Monze District Child Protection Committee yesterday rescued two 15 year old girls from being married off.
The committee swung into action to dissolve the two 15 year old’s marriages after the grandfather of one of the girls Reuben Muleya reported the premature union of his granddaughter to Mr Junior Moonga, 21, of Chiyoma village in Chief Mwanza’s area.
During the meeting at Chiyoma village, Mr Muleya told the committee that his granddaughter was forced into marriage by her father Harian Michelo in 2017, at the age of 13 to Mr Moonga who was then 18 years old without the knowledge and approval of other family members.
He explained that he only came to know about the marriage this year when his granddaughter came to seek refuge at his place after she was chased from her matrimonial home by the husband.
ZANIS reports that Mr Muleya said his granddaughter was in grade six at Ntambo Primary School at the time of her forced marriage, adding that, his interest was to ensure that she went back to school and complete her education.
Mr. Muleya said it was so disheartening that his granddaughter was stopped from attending school by her father and forced into early marriage which was against the law and development of a girl child.
He has requested the Police and the District Child Protection Committee to fully investigate the matter and if possible, have the father arrested for the offence.
And the tearful girl told the Child Protection Committee that she wanted to go back to school as there was nothing good in marriage apart from being physically abused every day.
She further thanked the committee for rescuing her from an abusive marriage. – ZANIS
Meanwhile, the Child Protection Committee at Hamachenje Village in Chief Chona in Moomba ward, also helped to prevent another early marriage of a 15 year old girl whose parents planned to marry her off.
The girl explained to the committee that her parents stopped her from going to school in grade 6 last year and instead forced her to get married for them to get wealth from bride price.
District Child Protection Committee Chairperson, Felistus Mubukwanu warned parents in the two chiefdoms to desist from marrying off their girl children until they attained the age of 18 years but instead encourage them to go to school and support their education.
She observed that it is unfortunate that parents in the two areas preferred to marry off their underage girl children to gain wealth in form of dowry, a practice she noted was retrogressive to the development of the district and Zambia at large.
Ms Mubukwanu who is District Community Development Officer said the District Child Protection committee would not relent in the fight against early marriages in the district.
She noted that the retrieval of one girl from early marriage and prevention of another from being forced into marriage was one step in giving other parents a timely warning to desist from marrying off their girl children or risk facing the law.
Ms Mubukwanu further implored parents to take the responsibility of educating and developing their children first above other self-interest, adding that was the potent way to lift them out of poverty.
Meanwhile, Headman Hamachenje has appealed to government and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to intensify the fight against high rates of early marriages in the area.
The headman said parents were taking advantage of the remoteness of the place and lack of police presence to commit various crimes including early marriages and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
And Headman Hatalimi in Chief Mwanza’s area urged government to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators of early marriages to effectively deter parents from marrying off their girl children.
noted that cases of early marriages in Chief Mwanza’s area were high adding
that, concerted efforts were needed to root out the problem.