Chief Sandwe of the Nsenga people of Lusangazi District in the Eastern Province has dissolved 12 child marriages in his area.
The Chief said he has decided to dissolve the 12 child marriages so that he protects young people from practices that expose them to sexual reproductive health risks, including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The Chief said his action will also ensure that the involved girls and boys get back to school so that they get educated and be able to make informed decisions in life for the development of the nation.
The traditional ruler has further instructed his subjects to desist from marrying off their children at a tender age of below 21.
And he told his Indunas to take a keen interest and start dissolving marriages of people below the age of 21 in their respective villages.
“I have dissolved 12 child marriages in my Chiefdom so as to curb vices that may lead to adolescents contracting these sexually transmitted diseases and you parents must desist from marrying off your children at a tender age,” the Chief said.
ZANIS reports that Chief Sandwe was speaking in Lusangazi on Tuesday during the commemoration of the HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment Day held in the Mawanda area.
And speaking at the same function, Msanzala Constituency Member of Parliament Elias Daka implored people in the area to take advantage of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and come up with projects that will address factors like poverty and lack of education that contribute to high HIV infection rates.
“You must ensure that you utilise CDF allocation and come up with projects that would assist in uplifting your livelihoods and also ensure you use CDF to educate your children”, the Lawmaker said.
And speaking earlier, Lusangazi District Commissioner Mike Tembo expressed worry over the high number of HIV cases and teenage pregnancies in the area.
He said currently, Lusangazi has a total number of 1,828 people on Anti-retroviral Therapy and among them, 177 are adolescents adding that 83 adolescents were also being treated for other STIs in the area.
Mr Tembo urged people in the area to get tested for HIV and live a healthy life and called for concerted efforts from various stakeholders to curb new HIV infections.
And Lusangazi District Social Welfare Officer Ristone Njobvu urged beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer in the area to take advantage of the Keeping Girls in School programme and take their children to school to keep them away from bad vices that can ruin their lives.
While Lusangazi District Adolescents Health Technical Working Group Focal Point Person, Gift Ching’andu, said bad vices among young people in Lusangazi are rising as evidenced by the 357 teenage pregnancies and 83 adolescents being treated for STIs as recorded in the second quarter of 2022.
“We really need to put an end to this… but this can be achieved if we get support from other stakeholders,” he said.
And Lusangazi District AIDS Coordinating Advisor Precious Machisa urged people in the area to protect themselves against HIV and from contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
This year’s HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment Day was being commemorated under the theme “let’s stop HIV together, get tested”.