How This Female Chief Broke Up 850 Child Marriages In Malawi
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Huffington Post
Posted: March 11th, 2019
One woman established a new law to prevent child marriage, and is enforcing it with serious gusto. Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi, was tired of seeing 12-year-old girls walking around with babies on their hips. She decided to take a stand and made 50 of her sub-chiefs sign an agreement to end child marriage in her area of authority. I told them: Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated, Kachindamoto [said]. But she didnt stop there: She made the leaders annul any existing underage unions, and send all of the children involved back to school. While marrying under age 18 in Malawi has been illegal since early 2015, children can still be married under so-called customary law, meaning with parental consent and overseen by traditional leaders. When four male chiefs continued to approve underage marriages, Kachindamoto suspended them as a warning to others, only hiring them back once they confirmed they had annulled the unions. First it was difficult, but now people are understanding, she said to the outlet. To ensure children are not being pulled out of school, Kachindamoto operates a secret network of parents to keep an eye on others. And when parents cant afford to pay school fees, shell pay them herself or find someone else who can. In June alone, she annulled more than 300 child marriages, according to the organization. And over the past three years, the figure reaches close to 850.
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