By Maravi Post reporter and MANA

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare has urged the stakeholders in the country to join government in fighting against child marriages.

Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry, Esmie Kainja observed that stakeholders including nongovernmental organizations, faith based organizations and private sectors have a crucial role to play in combating child marriages in the country.

She was speaking on Saturday during prayers for the International Day of Prayer and Action for Child 2018, which was held at Area 30 Police Headquarters in Lilongwe.

Kainja said that some cultural beliefs and practices are accelerating early marriages in the country; hence the stakeholder should help sensitizing the public on the effects of child marriages.

“People talk about poverty in the country but it is not only Malawi, so many African countries are suffering with the same poverty.

“But the key factor which facilitates early marriages is some of our cultural beliefs and practices such as kusasa fumbi and kulowa kufa, this takes our girl child as a sexual being while being forced to early marriage,” the PS pointed out.

She added that government is doing all possible to end early marriages by providing equal rights in education to both boys and girls; however she called churches to sensitize its members in promoting child rights.

“The Church should send message to its subjects that a child is not ready for marriage and government is saying no to early marriages and the church must not bless those early marriages,” Kainja said.

She thanked Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (MIAA), UNICEF, Malawi Police and World Vision for collaborating with government in protecting rights of children.

Executive Secretary of Seventh Day Adventist Church, Innocent Chikomo said it is the responsibility of the Church under the banner of MIAA to protect the rights of children by sensitizing their followers on the evil of early marriages.

“We are parading these prayers today with the aim of discouraging early marriages; we need children to have quality education so that they should get married at reasonable age,” he clarified.

UNICEF Country Director, Johannes Wedening observed that Malawi is still backward in ending children violence and early marriages.

He expressed the need for various sectors such as the church, traditional leaders to work in partnership in the fight against child violence.

“We should make sure that no one goes into marriage below the age of 18. And even though we are not doing good to end early marriages but the good thing is that the legal environment has changed through the law that no one should get marriage below 18,” Wedening pointed out.

The Prayers were held under the theme called Faith Leaders Lets Stand Up to End Child Marriages in Our Churches, Mosques and Communities.

The event was spiced by songs, exhibitions, speeches, preaching from children, parents, Police Band.

Organizations such UNICEF, World Vision and Ministry of Gender patronized the event which was organized by MIAA.

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