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Police warn against child marriages

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Malawi Police Service (MPS) has embarked on different activities that are aimed at popularising the legally accepted marriage age and warning the public on the consequences of forcing children into marriage.

In February this year, Parliament amended the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act of 2015 to make marriage before the age of 18 illegal, removing a provision that allowed children to marry at 15 with parental consent.

Malawi has the 11th highest child marriage rates in the world, with nearly one in two girls married before 18 according to Unicef.

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Speaking during an open day meeting on awareness of violation of child rights in Lilongwe on Friday, MPS Deputy Director of Community Policing and Rural Police Units Maclean Mguntha warned against marrying off the underaged children.

Mguntha told parents, teachers and children who gathered at Makunje School in Traditional Authority Masumba Nkhunda that the recommended marriage age is 18 and there should be no any compromise on that.

He challenged the communi ty member s , especially siblings to any victimised children, to be able to stand up against the child marriages and quickly report the same to police.

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“We need to protect our children from challenges that affect their health well-being and education,” Mguntha said.

Action Aid Projects Officer responsible for an ending three-year Norad project, Gracian Kamnyamata, said the country should strive to keep children in school all the time.

“We are here to tell you what to do to promote education for our vulnerable children and we believe, at the end of the day, you will prioritise education and not marriages,” Kamnyamata said.

Through its Child Development Programme, MSP is partnering with different organisations, including Action Aid Malawi, to ensure that rights of children are fully promoted and respected.

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