Malawi bans child marriage
23rd Feb 2015 And in what has been described by a victory for women, Malawi’s new law has effectively made child marriage on one of the things that are unacceptable by law with a new legal marriage age of 18.
The new law, which has been hailed by Women rights campaigners as “a great day for Malawian girls” and a law which would aid in the development of the country. These groups have also encouraged the government to pay more attention to issues like poverty and illiteracy as they contribute to reasons for child marriages.
Jessie Kabwila, a parliament member who helped push for the legislation is quoted as saying “This law is extremely crucial because child marriage is a big, big problem in our country. The country will for the first time clearly articulate that we are saying ‘No’ to child marriage.”
Early marriage not only deprives girls of education and opportunities, it also increases the risk of death or serious childbirth injuries if they have babies before their bodies are ready. Child brides are also at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence. Malawi has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, with half of girls wedding before their 18th birthday and nearly one in eight married by 15 years old.
With this backdrop, we can certainly relate with Ms Kabwila’s statement that “This law is very important because of the number of girls who drop out of school because they are going to get married, and because of the high numbers of girls who are dying when they are giving birth. We cannot talk about development if we have child marriage. Women’s empowerment is a crucial player in development and women cannot be empowered if they are not educated.”
Good on you Malawi!