A story from Malawi: Escaping child marriage to find empowerment in education

Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. One in two girls are married by the age of 18. This is the story of Loveness*, a 12 year-old victim of child marriage who sought support from her local Child Helpline.

Story by Faith

 

Loveness was forced into child marriage by her parent. She was only 12 at the time. Loveness’ parent received money from the boy who married her. During the first months of marriage, Loveness faced a lot of challenges, so she decided to run away from her husband. When the news of her escape reached her family, her parent ran after her all the way up to the bus depot. Fortunately, well-wishers who understood what was going on helped Loveness escape and reported the case to the police.

  • One in two girls in Malawi are married by the age of 18.

The police referred Loveness to the Tithandizane Child Helpline where she was placed under protection in a safe house. She stayed there for a couple of days, while receiving support and counselling. The parent of Loveness was taken in by the police to respond to the charges. Eventually Loveness moved in with a relative and went back to school. Shortly after enrolling, Loveness was selected as one of the best secondary pupils in Malawi.

Education is key to improving the lives of girls

Education is key to improving the lives of girls like Loveness in Malawi and the whole world. A girl with education can have a better income, better health, is less likely to be a victim of gender based violence, is more likely to educate her children, and is more likely to be an active member of society. Other important techniques to end child marriage are to have a legal minimum age for marriage, provide girls with opportunities to learn skills and be aware of their rights, develop support networks for girls, and economic empowerment programmes.

 

*Name has been changed.