Government has expressed concern at the high rate of child marriages in rural Itezhi Tezhi district.
Speaking during the Ikubi lya chishi traditional ceremony held at Itumbi Place in Chief Kaingu’s chiefdom in Itezhi Tezhi, District commissioner George Sichula said child marriages were inimical to the women empowerment programmes introduced by the government.
“As we celebrate this colourful Ikubi lya chishi traditional ceremony, I wish to report that as government we are not happy at the high rate of child marriages being recorded in various chiefdoms in Itezhi Tezhi”, Mr Sichula said.
Mr. Sichula said that child marriages have the potential of reversing efforts being made in providing equal education opportunities for girls.
He said that the child marriage practice pulls girls out of school and perpetuates poverty which in turn negatively affects the economy.
Mr Sichula pointed out that it was wrong to marry-off children at an age as tender as 12 years before they are even mentally, physically and psychologically prepared for the responsibilities that are in marriages.
“Government is committed to ensuring equitable access to education by all gender but this practice of early marriages is costly defeating government efforts in empowering girl children”, said Mr Sichula.
Mr. Sichula observed that child marriages if not checked are a serious threat to human rights and the wellbeing of the children.
“Early marriage denies children an opportunity to grow and empower themselves, denies them an education, health, protection and development’’, he added.
The district commissioner also stressed that the practice of child marriages was perpetuating sexual violence as the children are usually married-off to men who are much older .
“These children with low education are more likely to experience violence by their partners who mostly are older than them. They are also likely not able to talk to their husbands because of some cultural practices and this is bad in this age of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS”, Mr. Sichula noted.
Mr. Sichula has since appealed to traditional leaders in the district to help stamp out this harmful practice.