CHILD labour ambassador Samson Mutambo has implored traditional leaders to take an upper hand in dealing with issues of child marriage as they were the custodians of culture.
Mr. Mutambo noted that cases of child marriage had continued to rise in rural areas and villages.
He stated that traditional leaders had a pivotal role to play in ending the vice in Zambia.
“One of the major causes of child marriage and forced marriage in Zambia are harmful and old cultural practices. Zambia is among countries with high prevalence of child marriage and I think that our chiefs can play an important role in this,” Mr. Mutambo said.
He indicated that there was need for traditional leaders to scale up efforts in curbing child marriage in order to protect the girl child and bring perpetrators of the vice to book.
Mr Mutambo urged traditional leaders to use their authority to speak against the vice and ensure that their subjects were fully aware of the consequences of marrying off their children at an early age.
“We must not take this problem as business as usual but an extraordinary challenge that must be addressed immediately. Without putting much effort, we realise that over the next years to come, many girls under the age of 18 years will be forced to marry, so let the chiefs use their power in this fight,’’ he said.
Mr. Mutambo appealed to Government to strengthen its dialogue and partnership collaboration with the local traditional leadership, adding that this would help them to identify and deal with some of the harmful cultural practices going on in some areas
“Government should strengthen dialogue with the chiefs so that they can identify the harmful practices and have their own caucus of dealing with such cases because these harmful beliefs are still being practiced,” he said
Mr. Mutambo, however, observed that sometimes it was not only the culture that was influencing girls to get married at a tender age but the girls’ own attitude.
He suggested that there was need to encourage dialogue among the girls themselves on the dangers of getting married at a tender age.
‘‘Another best way to deal with early marriages in our country is to have dialogue with the children time and again; this is very important. We need to scale up our sensitisation,” he said.