Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe of Rumphi has called on parents and members of the community in the district to send girls to school and ensure adequate resources are allocated towards girl child education. The chief said efforts to promote girl child education should start with the parents by among others ensuring that girls are sent to school and financially supported. Furthermore he said the community has a responsibility of ensuring that girls are protected from early marriages, sexual abuse and harassments, therefor he has facilitated the formation of community by laws in order to arrest cases of early marriages.

''Over 300 village headmen under my jurisdiction have formulated community by-laws that aim to protect our girls from getting married in their teen ages'', Chikulamayembe said.

The paramount chief however, noted that poverty is derailing efforts to completely root out cases of early marriages as some parents marry off their girls in order to benefit from dowry. In patriarchal communities like Rumphi, dowry is paid in form of huge sums of money or cattle.

Concurring, Life Concern Organisation (LICO) Executive Director Peter Gondwe said his organisation has since partnered with the chiefs in fighting cases of early marriages and currently supports 52 girls with school fees and other learning materials. These are the girls who have been withdrawn from arranged early marriages.

Gondwe however chided other NGOs who are withdrawing girls from arranged early marriages and later failing to support them with school fees and other basic needs: ''We need to have a holistic approach to this. It’s not proper just to withdraw the girls from the arranged marriages and later failing to support them with their education and other basic needs.''

written by E. Nyirendaedited by S. Koecke

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Life Concern Organisation

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Opp. St Denis Hall

PO Box 145, Rumphi

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