Millions of girls around the world dream of marriage. The proposal itself is such a great thing. Just go ahead and ask every little girl about the wedding dress she is going to wear at her wedding. Yes, they all dream about.
Unfortunately, not every little girl gets the chance to live her dream. Girls in Malawi are separated from their families and forced to marry someone they do not even know. Can you imagine the horror that goes in their head at the moment they have to take care of a family? Those girls are too young to understand anything and yet, someone makes a decision upon their future.
Young girls in Malawi
Malawi is a country located in the southeast region of Africa. Statistics shows it is the poorest country in the world. That’s why locals marry every day. It is a common tradition in underdeveloped areas. In 2012, the world was shocked to learn that half of the girls were sent away by their parents to marry before they turn 18.
In 2015, authorities passed a law according to men are forbidden to marry minor girls. Truth is, young girls are still getting married. Their family would agree to send them away in order to live with less financial problems.
Minor girls are sent to sexual initiation camps right after they have their first period. These young girls are taught of their “duties.” They learn how to “behave” like a wife and please their man. Sexually. Girls are also encouraged to have sexual intercourse. This common practice brings too many pregnancies and HIV.
Theresa Kachidamoto decides to stand up
Theresa Kachindamoto is a senior chief in the Dedza district of Malawi. She was fed up with the life minor girls live. Can you imagine being a 12-year-old wife of a teenager? Let’s not forget the babies. Kachindamoto took action shortly after she got her new position in the society.
The senior chief met with 50 of her sub-chief and made them sign an agreement that puts an end to child marriage. Minor girls could no longer be married in areas Kachindamoto was in charge of. “Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated,” she said. Not everyone obeyed her world, and Kachindamoto had to fire four male chiefs who did the opposite of what was written in the agreement they signed.
Kachindamoto annulled 850 child marriages. Each of the girls was sent back to school. That’s not all. The sexual initiation camps were shut down and banned forever.
The response and Kachindamoto’s determination
Not everyone was happy with Kachindamoto’s efforts. When she first came in public to talk about child marriages, many did not hesitate to tell her she did not have the right to mess with tradition. Yes, there were also death threats sent to her address, but, Kachindamoto was determined. “I don’t care, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’ve said, whatever, we can talk, but these girls will go back to school.”
Kachindamoto was craving a change. She helped families educate their children.
“If they are educated,” she said, “they can be and have whatever they want.”
Live for your future
Kachindamoto is a true inspiration for everyone. She did something when others did not even think of it. “I want these girls to be educated because in the future they will take care of us,” Kachindamoto added. She did what she thought was the right thing to be done. Kachindamoto gave the girls a right to live a better life, and fought tradition to achieve that.