Target: Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi
Goal: Praise increased minimum age for marriage Malawi.
The minimum age for marriage in Malawi has been raised from 14 to 18. The new law banning child marriage was recently approved by the country’s president after nearly three years in drafting. The law will also impose harsher penalties for parents who marry off their children at a young age and adults who take children as spouses.
Child marriage is very common in Malawi, with nearly half of all girls married before they reach 18. Nearly 15,000 young girls drop out of primary school each year due to marriage or pregnancy, with another 3,000 dropping out of secondary schools for the same reason. This results in a lack of education which contributes greatly to the country’s high rates of poverty and illiteracy.
Some children are married off at as young as nine years of age by poor parents who cannot afford to support them. Marriage at such a young age leaves children vulnerable to psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. Pre-teen girls who become pregnant are at higher risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, and have a much higher rate of maternal death. In fact, Malawi’s high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality has been linked to high instances of child pregnancy.
Now that the legal age for marriage has been raised, children will be able to focus on their education and their social lives, just as any child should. No longer will young girls be robbed of their childhoods and forced to give birth and care for a husband and infant. Sign the petition below to thank Malawi for ending exploitative child marriages.
Dear President Peter Mutharika,
Malawi recently raised the minimum age for marriage to 18, up from 14, effectively banning child marriage. The law also sets out harsher penalties for those who force children into marriage before the legal age. Currently, half of all Malawian girls under 18 are already married, resulting in increased school drop-out rates, widespread illiteracy, and rampant poverty. These girls are at increased risk of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse as well as complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
This new law will allow youth to enjoy their childhoods, focus on their education, and become sexually mature before marriage. Most importantly, it will stop the exploitation of children by their parents or spouses. We, the undersigned, thank you for ending child marriage in Malawi.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sarang via Creative Commons