With the advent of free education programme, parents are expected to send their children to school instead of inciting them into early marriages through cultural initiation ceremonies, Musokotwane Commission Mission Zambia (MCMZ) has said.
MCMZ Executive Director Genious Musokotwane noted in an interview that most parents in rural areas of Southern province engage their girl child into a cultural initiation ceremony where the child is prepared and taught about marriage and her role as a prospective wife.
“It’s the issue of cultural initiation ceremony like nkolola among Tongas whereby when the girl begins to attend menstruation,they take her and what they teach her is marriage instead of teaching her hygiene of how to take care of herself.
“We need an act that regulates those traditional ceremonies so they look at how the girls are handled there
“These ceremonies have contributed massively to child marriages that’s why you find that when that girl comes out she’s a [hot cake] on the market, because they teach her the dances and how a man should be treated in bed.
“You find that immediately she graduates from this ceremony she gets married,” Mr Musokotwane said.
Mr Musokotwane also said that one of the contributing factors to early marriages is poverty, thus children have been given an opportunity to acquire education at zero cost to learn skills that will enable them earn a living.
He said “currently there is 31 percent prevalence of child marriages at national level.”
Mr Musokotwane urged community leaders and stakeholders to spearheard mindset transformation in communities for people to embrace and appreciate the value of education.