The campaign against child marriages has been launched in senior chief Nsokolo’s chiefdom in Mbala district of Northern Province.
Minister of Transport, works, Supply and Communication Christopher Yaluma officially launched the campaign at Nsokolo basic school yesterday and called on Zambians especially those living in rural areas to report cases of child marriage to the relevant authority for action.
Yesterday’s launched of the campaign in Mbala rural comes barely a month after the national campaign against child marriage was launched by First lady Christine Kaseba in Eastern province.
Mr. Yaluma noted at the launch of the campaign that early marriages deter children from reaching their goals especially after being withdrawn from school.
He said early marriages should therefore be fought by all well meaning Zambians.
Mr. Yaluma also called on parents and other partners to work together and organise resources and skills to ensure that child marriages in Zambia were curbed.
He added that government was already working from a multi-sectoral approach and that a number of line ministries have since been engaged to fight the scourge.
He further noted that child marriages in Zambia deter development and would, if not tackled, derail government from meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs.
The minister observed that not all girls that have reached puberty were mature enough to take on the responsibilities of running a household hence the need not to force them into marriages.
Mr. Yaluma commended chief Nsokolo of the Mambwe people for embarking on a sensitization campaign in his chiefdom and other surrounding areas.
The traditional leader is in the forefront of implementing the sensitization campaign against early marriages and teenage pregnancies in his area.
He has since devised a document to illustrate the causes of early marriages and teen pregnancies in rural areas where he has pointed out lack of boarding school facilities, school gatherings such as inter-school sports rallies and church gatherings as some of the contributing factors.
Speaking at his palace when Mr. Yaluma paid a courtesy call on him, the chief noted that in school and church gatherings and choir rehearsals, children are left without anyone to look after them, a situation which gives them an opportunity to engage in sexual activities.
And during the meeting at the school, the chief called on his subjects to ensure that their children were protected from old men who might want to marry them at a tender age because early marriages deny girls an opportunity to realize their dreams in society.
The traditional leader has since asked government to build a secondary school in his area so that pupils, especially girls, can live near their homes instead of them renting houses in Mbala for them to go to school.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yaluma pledged to present the issue to the Minister of Education and further promised to electrify the area and tar the road which braches off from the Mbala-Nakonde road.
At the same meeting, Mr. Yaluma and other government officials from the Ministry of Chiefs distributed T-shirts labeled “Let Girls be girls and not brides,” to teen mothers as part of the sensitization.