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Female Chief in Malawi Breaks Up 850 Child Marriages And Sends Girls Back to School

Theresa Kachindamoto, the senior chief in the Dedza District of Central Malawi, wields power over close to 900,000 people… and she’s not afraid to use her authority to help the women and girls in her district. In the past three years, she has annulled more than 850 child marriages, sent hundreds of young women back to school to continue their education, and made strides to abolish cleansing rituals that require girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps. With more than half of Malawi’s girls married before the age of 18, according to a 2012 United Nations survey – and a consistently low ranking on the human development index, Kachindamoto’s no-nonsense attitude and effective measures have made her a vital ally in the fight for women’s and children’s rights.



Kachindamoto, who was born in Dedza District, had been working as a secretary for twenty-seven years in another district when she was called to come home and serve as a chief. Upon her return, she was dismayed at the sight of 12 year-old girls with babies and young husbands and quickly began to take action. Last year, Malawi raised the legal age to marry to 18, yet parental consent continues to serve as a loophole to allow younger girls to marry. Kachindamoto ordered 50 of her sub-chiefs to sign an agreement ending child marriage in Dedza District. When a few male chiefs continued to approve the marriages, Kachindamoto suspended them until they annulled the unions. In addition to annulling the marriages (330 in June of 2015 alone!), this fierce chief sent the children back to school, often paying their school fees with her own money. She has also asked parliament to raise the minimum age of marriage again to 21.


In an area where girls are often married early to ease a family’s financial burden and where one in five girls in Malawi are victims of sexual abuse, Kachindamoto is also taking a stand against the cleansing camps where girls are routinely sent before marriage. The sexual initiation rites that take place there are extremely disturbing, particularly in a country where one in ten people has HIV. Kachindamoto is threatening to dismiss any chiefs that continue to allow these controversial practices. Kachindamoto has faced plenty of opposition to her efforts from parents and community members, even receiving death threats, yet she remains determined to continue changing minds and laws for the benefits of Malawi’s females and their futures. In Kachindamoto’s own words, “If they are educated, they can be and have anything they want.”

Via The Huffington Post and Al Jazeera Lead image © Hannah McNeish for Al Jazeera


Written by How Africa

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  1. As a women I myself was married at 18 and my husband worked a job that kept him away for months on end but I was grateful to have him in my life so even at that young tender age all I could afford to do was take my marriage vows seriously and stay faithfully devoted with plenty of time spent with my husbands parents while he was away in order that he trust me. However it was not enough in a world where men are quickly embracing the traditionalized views of self-worship meaning as a women with little education and no money you do as you are told & they do as they please and if you don’t like it they will leave as other women will gladly take your place. It helps you understand why men pray in gratitude to the heavenly creator that they were not born a WOMEN and our flowing tears go on unnoticed. Marriage has changed and you are hard pressed to find the compassionate husband that can see himself in your shoes through the eyes of his mother that is quickly becoming a thing of the past as women who could careless about marriage vows let alone another women’s sorrow are increasing…which leaves many to wonder just how will these young brides be treated can you imagine being faithfully devoted to a man who will give himself to just about anything that sexually arouses him; sheeps, goats, children, prostitues, and then come home and give himself to his wife how many diseases has their headship placed them at risk of contracting and if infected how in the world will telling his young bride that he’s sorry fix it. How can we trust our husbands if they continue to carry on like this and what if the shoes were on the other foot and we had infected them do you know what they would happen???? Many of us would probably need to be afraid for our LIVES because young brides need to understand that men DO STILL BEAT WOMEN and some countries laws if you are found guilty of adultery will allow it and for some depending on the country YOU CAN BE LASHED for being caught fraternizing with a man that’s IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND as they feel that you have very little to be discussing with that man as you are not his wife “I’ve viewed the beatings they are highly publicized” These young brides they are so young and there is so much to learn and I don’t know if this will solve all of their problems but what I do know is how things have been currently going won’t continue to last life is precious and treating it as a soft loose joke has consequences that I don’t feel may be fair for the young bride to have to share in with an ungrateful husband with their sole excuse being…”Dear As A Man I Like All Others Simply Can’t Control Myself As Men All of Us We Must Release” -well husband at some point women will have to also !

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