World Vision Zambia has expressed fears that Covid 19 may lead to a possible increase in child marriages and teenage pregnancies as most girls are not engaged in any meaningful activities.National Campaign Coordinator James Zimba says World Vision has recorded an increase in teenage pregnancies and childmarriages in 41 districts countrywide during the period in which schools have remained closed owing to the pandemic.ZANIS reports that Mr Zimba said this today during a meeting to formulate child protection by-laws for Mbeza and Muchilachiefdoms of Namwala held in Choma. Mr Zimba explained that due to the tender age at which girls are getting pregnant, the country risks a rise in maternal deaths.He is however glad that traditional leaders have stepped up to bridge existing gaps in the current laws on child protection.“By the time schools open, we don’t know how many girls will report back in their normal shape because many of them arefalling pregnant.”Meanwhile the traditional leadership of Muchila and Mbeza chiefdoms have recommended various penalties under the newlyproposed by-laws.Speaking on behalf of the traditional leadership, Philip Sichala who also represented Chief Muchila says under the proposed bylaws, failure to access ante-natal care by expectant mothers shall attract a fine of k500.“We want failure to go for ante-natal to be an offence under the proposed by laws. Because we believe that child protectionshould start from the time a child is conceived.” Mr Sichala stressed.The traditional leaders have also proposed, among penalties, a 1000 kwacha fine for parents who marry off a child below theage of 18, and 200 kwacha for parents or guardians who willfully choose not to enroll their child in school.And Namwala Child Protection Committee Chairperson Chrispin Mubanga has commended World vision Zambia for theirpartnership in supporting government’s efforts to safeguard the welfare of children.“As district child protection committee, we are grateful to world vision for helping us formulate this document. Let’s ensure that this document is launched before the end of this year.” Mr Mubanga said.
The meeting to formulate by-laws was convened by world vision Zambia. It was attended by traditional leaders from Mbeza and Muchila chiefdoms of Namwala district as well as other stakeholders from the district child protection committee.