By Charity Mvoso, YWCA Malawi
It was a great privilege for me to attend the parliamentary forum in Ezulwini Swaziland as an observer. We arrived in Swaziland on Thursday 2nd June 2016 and were staying at the Mantenga Lodge in Ezulwini. The meeting to adopt the Model law on eradicating child marriage and protecting children already in marriage, was very interesting as we watched the parliamentarians from several countries in the SADC region, debate on the law. This took place on Friday 3rd June 2016. The objectives of the Model Law is to provide model provisions to assist Member States enact laws on the eradication of child marriage and protecting children already in marriage and to domesticate international and regional human rights instruments dealing with, or impacting on child marriage.
As a victim of child marriage, it is something that I will cherish the fact that I was part of people that observed the model law being adopted. The law to eradicate child marriages is very important, for the children of my country Malawi and especially my home village in Mulanje.
I also got the opportunity to meet with other girls from the region, Zambia, who had gotten married at an early age. We shared experiences and exchanged ideas on how we can use our experiences to warn other girls against the dangers of child marriage and encourage them to work hard in school.
I also had the pleasure of meeting chief Kachindamoto, of Dedza Malawi, who has done a lot of work in her area to end the practice of child marriages.
In the evening of 3rd June I attended a dinner, where, different participants had a discussion on ending child marriages. I was given the opportunity to speak and tell my story of how, I got married at 12 years of age. At 11 years, I went for an initiation ceremony that taught me things to prepare me for marriage. When at 12 years I was approached by a man who wanted to marry me, I thought I was ready, especially that most of my friends were already married and had children. I agreed to run away with him but was, however, rescued and returned back home. I was fortunate to go back to school and complete my education. I now look forward to being a police woman and ensuring that 12 year olds are protected.
There is still a lot of work to be done to make sure children, especially girls, are protected and also to sensitize community leaders on the laws that protect children.
I thank the YWCA for giving me the opportunity to be part of this important occasion and look forward to do more work to help eradicate child marriages.