Written by Moses Masiye
Traditional leaders, teachers, child protection workers and the youth in Machinga have blamed Ntaja police unit and Mangamba police post for allegedly imposing fines on sexual offences, without court trial.
Speaking in separate interviews, the groups among other factors allege that officers at Ntaja police unit and Mangamba police post are corrupt as they fine suspects and complainants.
Group village headman Mangamba says he has evidence of several sexual offences that were not taken to court alleging that they also demand money.
“Officers at Mangamba police post are demanding money and set free suspects without taking them to court, a malpractice that is chocking the efforts to end child marriages,” complains group village head Mangamba.
Headteacher for Namisangu school Craston Chisalanga and vice chairperson for a network of child protection workers in T/a Liwonde Emelesi Mbendera concurred with group village head Mangamba in separate interviews that the police officers are derailing their efforts to end child marriages.
Machinga police station community policing coordinator Inspector Naison Chibondo says they have not officially received the complaints, but will investigate the allegations and ensure that the suspects are taken to courts.
“We will follow up the complaints and take proper action where necessary,” said inspector Chibondo.
Five non governmental organisations namely Plan Malawi, Center for human rights and rehabilitation, Amref health Africa, Family planning association of Malawi and Centre for youth empowerment and civic education, have teamed up to assist ending child marriages and teenage pregnancies in Machinga district through Yes I do project.
Plan Malawi Yes I do project coordinator Joseph Maere says the project is bringing together all relevant community leaders and members to take a leading role in ensuring that early marriages and teenage pregnancies are eradicated in Machinga district.
A recent evaluation under Yes I do project in Machinga reveals that about 300 boys and girls have been taken back to some primary schools after dropping out in the past 3 months alone.
These were rescued from early marriages, and about 80 percent of these are girls aged below 18 years, some of whom return after giving birth.