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Teenage pregnancies soar in Mulanje

The rate of teenage pregnancies has soared in Mulanje with each Traditional Authority (T/A) registering over 6000 cases per year, The Daily Times has leant.

According to statistics gathered from the six T/As and two sub-T/As in the district, this has been going on for eight years.

Meanwhile, Mulanje District Youth Officer, Daudi Kachikwanje, has attributed the development to moral decay, cultural beliefs, poverty and lack of role models.

He said most of the culprits are men from the community and teachers working in various schools in the district.

Kachikwanje also said the situation has reached an alarming point, with sexual debut for girls now at 10 years despite government putting in place strong mechanism to curb the situation.

“Following this development, some girls aged 13 have two babies while some aged 22 have seven children,” he said.

Because of early marriages and concurrent multiple sexual partners, Kachikwanje said HIV and Aids prevalence rate in the district is now at 17.2 percent, beating the national rate of 10.1 percent.

He said the average school dropout rate for both boys and girls in primary and secondary schools is at 24 percent.

Kachikwanje cited T/A Juma as the worst place where early marriages and pregnancies are experienced.

“Statistics gathered last month at Kwalala Primary School in the area of T/A Juma, indicate that out of 24 boys and 16 girls that enrolled in Standard One, a boy dropped out on the way while only four girls reached standard eight and wrote the national exams,” he said.

He was speaking at a two-day Adra Malawi ‘When a Mother is a Child’ workshop that brought together chiefs to learn gender rights and policy issues as well as discuss legislations that aim at protecting children.

Speaking during the function Adra Malawi When a Mother is a Child Project Officer Judith Kumwenda said they decided to mentor the local leaders as custodians of culture.

“Most of the girls say they have early sexual debuts after the initiation ceremony which is part of their culture. It is also alleged that the chiefs are paid K2000 for them to grant parents rights for their children to enter into marriages,” Kumwenda explained.

Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati described the revelations, which came from her area, as shameful.

She then commended Adra for coming up with the two-year project.

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