Stop early-marriages
Published On April 5, 2014 » 2468 Views» By Moses Kabaila Jr: Online Editor » Opinion
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EARLY-MARRIAGES deny girls of their childhood, disrupt their education, limit their opportunities to develop, compromise their health, and expose them to violence and abuse. Early-marriages have also contributed to the slow attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for the year 2015. At least six of the eight United Nations set MDGs indirectly refer to early-marriages, among them; eradication of extreme poverty, hunger and achievement of universal primary education. Others are; promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, reduction in child mortality, improvement in maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria. It is against that background that we join other Zambians in condemning early-marriages, be it among peers or to older men. While a man of Chipulukusu Township in Ndola deserves commendation for taking his mother in-law to court against marrying off his daughter without consent, the whole story sounds warped. Mr Javan Nguwo, 51, is said to have told Chipulukusu Local Court that his mother in-law, Astridah Kalale married off his first born daughter Vivien who is 19-years-old, a Grade 11 pupil without his consent. His mother-in-law, however, has a different version of the story claiming that Nguwo had initially agreed to the marriage but changed his mind after accepting dowry and charging marriage price. His argument that he received dowry after being assured that the daughter was merely being engaged and would be married off upon completing school, is not convincing. We feel the starting point to discouraging early marriages should be that of not entertaining discussions and aborting agreements that may lead to such ceremonies. By accepting dowry, and that Mr Nguwo had even proposed K12,000 as the bride price for his daughter which was later reduced to K3,000, he can be said to have consented. And rightly so, senior local court magistrates, Paul Kayula with Nsama Nsofu dismissed the matter because Mr Nguwo was aware about the marriage. Though at 19, by Zambian law a girl maybe married off, the girl in question was in Grade 11, she should not in the first place have been exposed to marriage discussions. The fight against early marriages therefore, would only be won by not compromising and by taking strict measures against parents giving away their daughters.

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