Feature: Traditional leaders lead fight against child marriages in rural Zambia

Source: Xinhua| 2021-01-02 20:36:15|Editor: huaxia

LUSAKA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Had it not been for the intervention of the village head, Precious Moyo, a 16-year-old girl at the Kabeleka village in Lusaka would still be languishing in a marriage with no hope of a better future.

"My parents were struggling to provide for all six of us children. It was then that my peers suggested that I get married so as to lessen my family's financial burden," she recounted.

But after just a few weeks into the supposed marriage, the village head person upon learning of Precious's ordeal decided to confront her parents and had her removed from the arrangement and taken back to school.

Like many developing countries, Zambia still grapples with child marriages. Many girls particularly from lower-income environments in Zambia are married off at a very young age and in the process denied access to education and dignified life.

However, the past few years have seen a reduction in incidences of child brides particularly in rural Zambia because most traditional leaders in the country have made it their mission to end child marriages.

It is for this reason that stories with a much happier ending such as that of Precious are becoming all too common in rural Zambia where child marriages were once very rife.

Many traditional leaders, including chiefs, village heads as well leaders of village development committees, have continued to spearhead the fight against child marriages as well as a host of other gender-based violence challenges in rural Zambia and their efforts are bearing fruit.

"We have, through the Chikwanda Anti-GBV Foundation, an initiative of the royal establishment, managed to prevent child marriages and also successfully retrieved a lot of young girls from such arrangements. A good number of the girls have since gone back to school," Chief Chikwanda of Chikwanda Chiefdom in Mpika district, Northern Zambia, said in an interview with Xinhua.

His royal highness further revealed that because of education and sensitization programs that his administration has been undertaking over the years, most families now apprehend the dangers of child marriage, including maternal death and greater risk of contracting a range of sexually transmitted infections.

"Communities now also appreciate the fact that marrying off young girls is retrogressive in that it not only robs the child involved in a better future but also denies our village the chance to develop. Educated children are an asset to both their immediate communities and the country as a whole," he added. Enditem