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Culture blamed for child marriages

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By Sharon Chirwa:

One of the organisations that champion women and girls’ rights has bemoaned rising cases of early marriage, faulting culture for fuelling the same.

Women’s Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec) Communications and Research Manager, Dumase Zgambo-Mapemba, said this at a journalists’ workshop on Monday.

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“We blame the proliferation of early marriages on culture, especially in communities where issues of lobola [bride price] and dowry take centre stage. [The cases are higher] where people want to benefit from the marriage of the child. The child is seen as a source of income. The support that the husband will be giving the girl’s family is seen as important,” Zgambo- Mapemba said.

She said the early marriage prevalence rate in Malawi stood at 42 percent, 5 percentage points higher than the Southern African Development Community rate of 37 percent.

She, however, said the country was making progress.

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Meanwhile, lawyer Kumvana Mlumbe has said laws that restrict early marriages are not known by most citizens; hence, the need for journalists to sensitise people to the issues.

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