– Gender Minister, Inonge Wina, says her ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) in order to come-up with a law that will empower chiefs to prosecute perpetrators of child marriages.
Child marriages have evidently increased in the country despite intensified campaign against child marriage by various stakeholders in Zambia.
The latest case involves a 13-year-old Grade six pupil of Mulizye Primary School in Nakonde who was over the weekend married off by her parents.
Nakonde District Education Board Secretary (DEBS), Stanley Mwambazi, said the named girl whose identity has been with-held was married off by her parents last Saturday at a ceremony held at her parents’ home in Mulizye village.
Ms Wina disclosed that currently, the traditional leaders are advocating and sensitising their subjects on the dangers of the vice hence the formulation of the law.
She directed chiefs in the country to monitor the movement of the minors as the rate of Gender Based Violence (GBV) related cases in communities has reached alarming proportions.
In an interview with ZANIS in Lusaka today, Ms Wina, however, commended the chiefs for their efforts in joining hands with government in the fight against the vices.
The minister lamented that the girl-child in Zambia is under threat and immediately called for concerted efforts from stakeholders like the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education, Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) and the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in curbing child marriages and GBV vices.
“It is very unfortunate that the girl-child in Zambia is under threat but we are slowly going to win the battle of early marriages,” Ms Wina said.
She said the Patriotic Front (PF) government is resolute on the importance of education to the girls as demonstrated in the national strategies for developing the education sector.
UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, who officiated at the a regional symposium last week, put a global spotlight on ending child marriages and offer support to the campaign on ending child marriages.
First Lady, Christine Kaseba, who also attended the symposium, advocated for criminalising child marriage, a position supported by Chieftainess Waitwika and children’s rights organisations and many other stakeholders.
The symposium highlighted the dangers of child marriage and the long-term harm it causes to communities.
Zambia is the first country in Africa to launch the campaign to ending child marriage.