School drop-out push girls into early marriages – Chief Zingalume
By Staff Reporter
Chief Zingalume of the Chewa people in Chadiza district, Eastern Province has attributed high rate of teenage pregnancies and early marriages recorded in his chiefdom to girls dropping out of school.
In a telephone interview with newsdayzambia.com the traditional leader called for concerted efforts by other traditional leaders to combat the trend that had only manage to reinforce high poverty levels in the district.
Chief Zingalume said the district which borders Malawi had recorded a minimal reduction of the teenage pregnancies and early marriages since they introduced by-laws protecting the minors against perpetrators of the vice.
“This time Chadiza has seen a reduction after we launched the by-laws end of last year. The laws are really helping in our district, we now want to launch the campaign at chiefdom level more in areas where parents are still not taking their girls to school and instead push them into marriages,” said Chief Zingalume.
He is elated, the by-law mandates the traditional leaders to stop marriages that were detrimental to the personal development of young girls through education.
“From now, what we are telling parents is that a girl can only be married after 20 years at which she would have completed her education. But we are still sensitizing the communities because the launch was done in Chadiza boma while many parents in deep rural areas did not attend, that’s why we are going to villages,” he explained.
And chief Zingalume has commended Plan International Zambia for their support in the fight against early marriages and teenage pregnancies in Eastern Province, particularly Chadiza.
“Plan international has really been helping as it has been working hand in hand with us chiefs in the fight against early marriages and teenage pregnancies. The work they are doing has really helped in the reduction of prevalence rate,” he said.
Meanwhile a senior headman in chief Chikuwe of Kasenengwa district Weekson Lungu has called on government to step up their involvement in coming up with interventions that protect the victims of early marriages while maintaining discipline.
“Parents and traditional leaders have been trying hard to end some early marriages but our children are not listening and others are even threatening to take legal actions against their own parents and this is shooting down the fight. Government should also revisit the laws on children’s rights – how far they can challenge their parents of matters of discipline,” said Lungu.
Lungu also said high school fees was also a contributing factor as parents in rural areas fail to send their children to school.
last year Over 24,000 teenagers fell pregnant in Eastern Province.
Then Provincial Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo, said a total of 24,731 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the province from January to December 2018.
Kasolo said the high numbers of adolescent pregnancies are alarming.
He told journalists that the recorded pregnancies range among teenagers of ages between 12 to 20 years.
“Chipata district recorded the highest with over 5,000 cases, seconded by Lundazi with over 4,000 teenage pregnancies.Petauke was third with 3,792, Katete district fourth with 2, 675 while Mambwe recorded 1,198.
Kasolo said Chadiza district recorded 1,419 with Nyimba recording 1,481.
“Vubwi district recorded the lowest teenage pregnancies with 560 cases,”