Village Headman Dyuuka of Chief Sipatunyana’s area in Zimba district has expressed concern over the high number of early marriages and teenager pregnancies in his area.
Headman Dyuuka said incidence rates of teen pregnancies and early marriages are allegedly very high and denying girls their fundamental basic human rights.
Speaking in an interview in Zimba , the traditional leader said unless efforts to end the scourge of child early and forced marriages are accelerated, girls are at risk of being married off before they attain their 18th birthday.
He is, however, optimistic that Zambia would end the practice of child forced marriages by the year 2030 owing to the positive strides the country has made so far in order to achieve the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Early marriages and teen pregnancies denies the girl child basic fundamental rights such as a chance to be a child, live a life free of violence and sexual abuse.
The scourge also robs girls their opportunity for career, vocational advancement and ultimately denies them the chance to make meaningful contributions to the economic development of their communities,” he said.
Headman Dyuuka acknowledges that early marriages and teenage pregnancies are driven by social and economic factors which include negative social norms, lack of access to information, education and poverty.
The traditional leader appealed to Government and experts dealing in child protection to explore possibilities of criminalising child early and forced marriages so that the vice can be eradicated.
He urged members of the general public to report perpetrators of child sexual abuses to traditional leaders, law enforcement agencies, local authority and or government officials