Malawi Woman Responsible for Annulling More Than 1,000 Child Marriages
Known as the “Terminator” of child marriages, Theresa Kachindamoto of Malawi is responsible for annulling more than 1,000 child marriages. She is a senior tribal chief of the district of Dedza and she works to ensure girls get back to school.
One of 300 tribal leaders in the country with authority over 551 headmen, she has the power to change or abolish cultural practices like child marriage. She works with a local group of women, known as The Mother’s Group, who go door to door to find girls in child marriages, helping resume their education.
Kachindamoto was moved to end this practice when she saw girls as young as 12 years of age having children. “That is why I got angry because they’re too young for having a baby. So that’s why I said no. This is too much. I must do something.” She said if a village headman allowed a girl to be married, she dismissed him completely.
Throughout the years, she has received support from UN Women in her cause, and in 2017, Kachindamoto adopted an amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years old, making child marriage illegal. She is committed to educating parents and headmen on how important education is over marriage for these girls. “Changing attitudes and behaviors takes time, particularly, with male chiefs and parents who benefit from arranged, child-forced marriages.”
Many families force their daughters into child marriage because of poverty and cultural tradition. Girls forced into marriage are more likely to experience violence. Also, child brides who become pregnant in Malawi are likely to experience complications while pregnant or giving birth. This is part of a horrific trend as the country’s maternal mortality rates are 20-30%.
Kachindamoto’s mission of ending child marriage saves countless lives and gives girls an opportunity to pursue their education to guarantee a brighter future. With no support from families, Kachindamoto and local groups are planning to build hostels for girls who travel long distances from their homes to school.
This woman is revolutionary. Read more on her and this story from Lifegate.com