Mcknight Kalanda, Director of Child Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare said child marriages, child poverty and corporal punishment are some of the challenges that children continue to face at the hands of their perpetrators.
Fifty percent of girls in Malawi get married before the age of 18 which is contributing a lot to poverty levels in the country and unless something concrete is done, many girls’ future in as far as education is concerned will be doomed.
“This issue is very big. Social norms and culture are also contributing to this. Girls are dropping out of school because of teen pregnancies and parents force that child into an early marriage. Parents believe that girls that have children outside marriage will not find a husband in future so they would rather push her to get married than encourage her to go back to school,” explained Kalanda.
He said most girls reach puberty while they are still in primary school and are uncomfortable learning with little boys and girls therefore opt out of school for early marriages.
“Most of the girls think that marriage is an option. Boys make fun of them when they have started showing body changes. It is for this reason that girls would rather go and get married than stay in class. This is what we want to put an end to,” he explained.
Kalanda said making secondary education accessible is one way of preventing young girls from getting married.
In December 2015, Malawi launched a five-year prevention campaign on ending violence against children which addresses social norms, reach out to young people and parents to end child marriages from a sexual exploitation perspective.