Grivelia Alex, We do research to find those who are married off early
Traditional leaders and youths in the area of Sub-Traditional Authority (ST/A) Nthunduwala have joined hands to deal with child marriages and send the children back to school.
Senior group Village Headman Nthunduwala, explained in an interview that the problem of child marriages has been troubling the area of STA Nthunduwala for many years and was threatening the opportunities of youths, especially girls, to have access to education.
“Some girls as young as 15 get married with or without parental consent due to peer pressure or by being forced by parents or guardians. When we hear that anything of that sort has happened, we ensure that the children should go back to school, he said.
He said through these efforts, most people in the area have been sensitised to keep their children away from marriage until they reach marriageable ages.
Grivelia Alex, one of the youths from Nthunduwala Village who is also one of the youths leading the fight against early marriages, explains that they conduct research periodically with the aim of finding out existence of such cases.
“Within this period when the National Initiative for Civic education (NICE) has been implementing this Tilitonse funded project here, we have managed to take five girls out of marriage and sent them back to school.
“There are many challenges that we face as we do this, such as parents or guardians asking us who would be paying the school fees or who would take care of the pregnancy the girl may have, as well as the general economic wellbeing of the girl and her family. For us to achieve what we want, we always work with chiefs, who exert their authority and the parents obey,” said Alex.
She added: “One of the girls we sent back to school is a friend of mine who got married because of naivety and peer pressure. I personally talked to her out of marriage and she is now back at school”.
According to Senior GVH Nthunduwala and Alex, the other aim of fighting early marriages is to reduce infant and maternal mortality, since many young girls die or develop serious complications during childbirth due to the fact that their bodies are not yet matured. Some of them lose the newly born babies due to complications at birth.
“If it were not for NICE, we would not have known that we as villagers have a responsibility to deal with such evils. Now, we know that it is our responsibility to ensure the area is orderly and we respect the laws of the country,” he said.