Dr Kaseba calls traditional leaders to fight child marriages
Lunga, May 13/13, ZANIS—-First Lady, Christine Kaseba, has appealed to traditional leaders in Lunga District of Luapula Province to join the campaign against early marriages in order to enable young girls in their chiefdoms attain good levels of education.
Dr Kaseba made the appeal in a speech read on her behalf by Local Government and Housing Minister, Emerine Kabanshi, who is also Luapula Constituency Member of Parliament, during the installation ceremony of Senior Chief Kalima Nkonde in Lunga district.
The First Lady said the scourge of child marriages in Zambia was deterring development and a stumbling block to meeting the Millennium Development Goals because the child population comprised the bulk of the Zambian population.
She said according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNFP) statistics of 2010, the population under the age 18 was at 53 per cent which was above half of the 13.08 million of the total Zambian population.
Dr Kaseba observed that child marriages were rife among least educated and poor girls living in rural areas.
She added that uneducated young girls who were falling prey to child marriages were also prone to having illiterate children because they had no means of educating their children.
The First Lady appealed to traditional leaders to play a key role in reversing the trend and give hope for education to the rural girls for them to have better opportunities in life through education.
She said if rural girls were given an opportunity to be educated, they would have better understanding of how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and diseases which sometimes result in HIV and AIDS.
The First Lady added that it was important for girls to be educated so that they could have negotiation powers unlike the current situation where majority of them totally depended on their male folk for their livelihood.
She said child marriages were a worrisome practice because maternal deaths were likely to occur because the girl child carrying a baby when her body was not mature enough for safe deliver was risky situation at delivery time.
She said the nation has lost a number of girls due to getting pregnant when they were too young to handle the challenge of child delivery.
Dr Kaseba disclosed that currently the Zambian maternal death rate stood at 591 per 100,000 live births which was a frightening situation for the nation.
She called for concerted efforts and effective synergy in curbing the scourge because the projected figures were that the girls born between 2005 and 2010 will be in marriages by 2030 which represented an increase of 80 per cent if the scourge is left unchecked.
Dr Kaseba said child marriages were a subtraction on the gains that the nation should be making on the economic front in order to become a middle income nation.
She said the fight will require a collective employment of ideas, resources and skills to ensure that the scourge is stopped in all Zambian communities.
And speaking at the same occasion, Luapula Province Minister, Benson Kapaya, called for sexual behavioural change in the light of HIV and AIDS, saying the pandemic was real and ravaging the human race especially the young and productive age group.
Gen Kapaya said the pandemic thrived predominantly through casual sex and if not checked, humanity was headed for extinction.
He called on traditional leaders to encourage traditional practices that would reduce the spread of the pandemic, adding that no development could take place in the absence of people.
Prominent among the attendees who came for the installation ceremony were Agriculture Deputy Minister, Rodgers Mwewa, who is also Mwansabombwe Member of Parliament, Communication, Roads and Transport deputy Minister, Mutaba Mwali and Luapula Province Deputy Permanent Secretary, Joyce Mwansa Bwacha Nsamba, and District Commissioners.