Malawi: woman cancels more than 850 marriages of girls, sends hundreds of young women back to school

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Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief of Dedza district in central Malawi, is not afraid to use her authority to help women and girls in her district of nearly 900 people. She freed children from forced marriages and abolished sexual initiation rituals for 000-year-old girls. In June 2015 alone, she canceled 330 weddings!

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LMalawi has a very poor Human Development Index (HDI). According to a 2012 United Nations survey, more than half of the country's girls are married before the age of 18. It is a way for families to reduce their financial burdens. We must add to this gloomy picture the fact that 1/5 of girls are victims of sexual abuse, and that 1/10 of the population is infected with HIV.

Theresa Kachindamoto had worked for 27 years as a secretary in another district when she was called to serve as chief of her home district. She was very touched to meet 12 year old girls with their babies. The Malawian government has raised the legal age for marriage to 18, but parental permission still allows this law to be circumvented. That's why Theresa signed an agreement banning child marriage to 50 officials in her district. When several of the men among them continued to celebrate them, she suspended them from their functions until they agreed to call off the marriages.

Theresa also called on the government to raise the legal age for marriage to 21.

This woman, very committed to the rights of women and children, upsets the established order so much that she has had to face a lot of opposition from families. She even received death threats. Yet she often paid the school fees herself for the girls she put back into the school circuit.

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Theresa Kachindamoto remains committed to improving the living conditions of women and girls today and tomorrow in her country. In his own words:

"If they are educated, they can be and have whatever they want"

Elisabeth dugas

source: Huffington Post


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