[By Chambwa Moonga in Chinsali]
SENIOR chief Nkula of the Bemba-speaking people of Chinsali district says marriage should not be the ultimate goal for young girls.
The chief notes that the tendency to marry off young girls is prevalent in Zambia and must be opposed by everyone.
Nkula explained that he was a determined champion of the rights of children, especially girls, because: “I want to see them get educated.”
“Initially, I was advocating for such in my chiefdom only. But now I’m doing that throughout the country. I have seen in Sweden that women head many institutions; they are the key players in many institutions,” Nkula said in an interview at his palace in Chinsali on Monday.
Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba had gone to pay a courtesy call on Nkula.
“Sweden is actually the best in the world, where upholding of human rights is concerned, unlike how we mistreat each other here. So, I work with the NGOs to advocate for children’s rights.”
He said he had built a court where parents who mistreat their children and couples who engage into gender-based violence are counselled.
“I also involve the Victim Support Unit of the Zambia Police. I plead with you (Kalaba) that as you speak to your supporters, talk about girl children’s rights. They aren’t slaves! Marriage shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. Emphasise to people that they should not marry off young girls and through that, you’ll be helping me and I can help you, in turn.”
Nkula said he worked with a chief per province to champion the cause for children’s rights.
“The tendency to marry off young girls is now prevalent in Zambia and it must be opposed by everyone. I went to Southern Province for the same cause. Last year, we saw that the number of cases of early marriages in Southern Province is on the lesser side. Girls are going to school…” noted Nkula.
“So, I’m encouraging everyone, especially chiefs, to ensure that young girls are not married off because the greatness of this country lies in them (young people).”