SENIOR Chieftainess Chungu of Luwingu district in Northern Province says some girls in her chiefdom have resorted to killing their newborn babies because of high poverty levels.
She said cases of teenage pregnancies and early marriages are on the increase due to poverty and distance from secondary school.
“Before I travelled to Kasama, I handed over a young girl to the police who approached a male clinical officer to have her newborn baby injected with drugs to kill her baby. She told health personnel that she had no capacity to take care of her child,” Snr Chieftainess Chungu said.
She was speaking during the HeforShe forum for traditional leaders in Northern Province.
The HeforShe is a global solidarity movement of Unites Nations Women that promotes equality between men and women.
President Edgar Lungu is the HeforShe champion for the Zambian campaign.
The programme is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender with support from the United Nations Development Programme.
The programme has been rolled out to seven provinces except for Western, Muchinga and Luapula.
More than 2,000 men that include traditional leaders, senior government officials, and the private sector, among others, have signed up to support the programme.
And Snr Chieftainess Chungu, who is the only female chief in the province, has asked Government to construct a secondary school within her chiefdom.
She said children, especially girls, are failing to walk long distances to the schools which are very far.
“We only have Chungu Primary School, which caters for grade one to nine. This is an old structure in a deplorable state. I schooled and taught at this same school, so do you think it can be in good shape?” she questioned.
As a result, it has been difficult for children in her area especially girls to complete their secondary school education.
She said some youths have resorted to renting small huts in the proximity of the schools, a situation she said is dangerous for girls.
“Children, especially girls who live by themselves, lack discipline and start sleeping around with men for favours, especially food and money,” she said.
The traditional leader said a number of girls drop out due to pregnancies and early marriages even without the consent of their parents, who think they are still in school.
She said this year she withdrew a 15-year-old girl from marriage and sent her back to school using her resources.
“I have taken up the role of paying for this young girl because her parents claim that they did not have the money to allow her to continue with school, that is why they married her off to a fellow youth,” she said.
ZAMBIA DAILY MAIL