Mchinji District Social Welfare Office has described advocacy for the rights of children as key in fighting teen marriages and pregnancies in the district.
The statement comes at a time children in the district continue to face various forms of abuse such as defilement and forced marriages.
The District Social Welfare and Child Protection Officer, Precious Madengu, said children continue to face various forms of abuse due to lack of efforts to mobilise resources to deal with the vices in the district.
He was speaking at a recent advocacy training session for primary school learners organised by Girls Activist Youth Organization (GAYO) in Traditional Authority Kapondo in the district.
“This training will help learners to have the responsibility of fighting for their own rights, which will lessen our work as Social Welfare Office.
“The children are focal points in this campaign since they are the ones that face the abuses, so, we need more of such trainings to annihilate child marriages and other forms of child abuse in the district,” said Madengu.
He has since commended GAYO for the initiative, stressing the need for more of such trainings if cases of child abuse are to end in the district.
According to GAYO Field Officer, Karen Seyani, the training focused on child-to-child monitoring, child journalism, child rights and how children can report any abuse that they face in their communities.
Seyani said after the training, the learners are expected to form child advocacy clubs in their respective schools.
“We are here to train learners from Rusa, Kalulu, Chafuta and Chankhanga primary schools on child advocacy.
“We want participants to trace and report various forms of abuse in their schools and help one another as children so that their lives are transformed by enjoying an abuse-free environment,” he said.
One of the training participants, 11-year old STD 5 learner from Kalulu Primary School, Pemphero Mtembe, said the training had helped her to be aware of her rights as a child and her responsibility to fight any form of abuse in her community.
“I have learnt a lot from this training. Now, I am able to know when I am being abused by my parents as well as teachers. At the same time, I know my right to education. Being a girl, it is a challenge in our community since we are forced to go into early marriages,” she said.
The training drew together learners from Standards 4-6 who are expected to equip their fellow learners with the knowledge acquired during the training.
Girls Activist Youth Organisation is implementing Rusa Community Engagement Sponsorship Programme, aimed at fighting teen marriages and pregnancies in Traditional Authority Kapondo in Mchinji District with support from World Vision Malawi.