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Zambian minister calls for fight against early marriages

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Zambian Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri has stepped forward against the early marriages in the country and Africa as a whole.

Phiri believes that all the stakeholders should come up with a multi-sectorial approach to eliminate this problem.

The Minister also states that everyone should prioritise actions aimed at ending the child marriages.

This statement was made during an End Child Marriage event held at Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka.

Phiri said Zambia’s desire to fight early marriages could be demonstrated by the recognition of President Edgar Lungu as the African Union (AU) Champion on ending the child marriages.

She stated the Zambian government had been and continued to be the leader in raising the awareness of the issue.

She further added that there was a need to continue encouraging the traditional leaders and their wives to go on with their important fight against the early marriages among their subjects.

The Minister expressed her gratitude towards the UN family and other cooperating partners for their support in fighting the vice.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Coumba Gadio agreed that there was a need to make sure that the commitment to eliminating the early marriages was renewed.

Dr Gadio mentioned that the child marriages represented multiple violations of child rights as it put an end to their education, exposed girls to gender based violence, caused teenage pregnancies and risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS among others.

The UN Resident Coordinator appreciated the Zambian leadership in fight against the child marriages.

Meanwhile, Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba proposed to implement a 20-year prison sentence for any perpetrator.

Dr Kalumba noted that the child marriages had dramatically affected the future of the young generation.

He said his Ministry was cooperating with the Ministry of Gender to make sure that the early marriages were prevented, especially in the rural areas through the District Education Board Secretaries (DEBS).

The Permanent Secretary, however, mentioned that there was a need to help the office of the DEBS with transport, to assist them effectively fight the early marriages in the villages.

The ending child marriage steering committee is a committee formed under the Global Programme to Accelerate Action in order to end the child marriage under the lead of UNFPA and UNICEF.

The programme works in 12 African countries including Zambia.

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