Advocacy for Child Justice under LifeSavers’ Mutule Child Protection Project launched the public awareness campaign on ending child marriage and child prostitution whose theme was “COMBATING CHILD MARRIAGE AND CHILD PROSTITUTION.” The event was held in John Howard at Chawama Market Grounds. The event was held at a Market day when the market hosts a lot of people from within and around Lusaka to sell and buy farm products, second hand clothes and other items at the market. The Market hosts over 1000 traders and over 2000 buyers at a particular time on a good market day. Over a million people walk in and out of the Chawama market per day. It was for this reason that the venue and date were picked for awareness.
The Launch which was graced by the Honourable Minister of Gender and Child Development who is very passionate on the protection of children from child marriages and sexual exploitation of children. The Minister strongly condemned the practice of child marriage and prostitution. She sensitised the public which included over 1500 children and approximately 700 adults on the effects of child marriages and prostitution. Being a professor in Health related matters, the Minister elaborately explained to the audience on why child marriage and prostitution is a danger to child health. She also informed the gathering that the government has launched a National Plan of Action on Ending Child Marriage. She warned that it is illegal for any persons under the age of 18 to get married. She further warned that anyone who will be found married or having canal knowledge with a minor under the age of 18 years will be arrested and prosecuted by the law.
The Minister expressed happiness on the impact the Organisation was making through the Mutule Child Protection Project. The Minister said the Ministry was happy to partner with ACJ in the fight against child marriage and child prostitution.
The other speeches came from the Executive Director who addressed policy issues and implored the Minister to influence policy strengthening for in order to adequately protect the children. The Director highlighted on the successes of the project and it targets. The Civil Society Network on ending Child Marriage was represented by a number of member organisations. The Network Representative highlighted on the activities the Network has implemented on ending child marriage in Zambia. The Network was happy to note that the Civil Society Organisations through the Network have been instrumental in coming up with a National Plan of Action. The children had a message for parents and their peers in their poems and songs “ they want their parents and guardians to support them to school as opposed to pushing them into Marriage or Child prostitution” The message was also delivered through drama and dances from a Professional drama group as well as the campaign posters and flyers.
The messages were targeted at the children, parents and guardians, the government as well as strategic partners. We have also extended the invitation to the media houses including print media, TV and radio stations.
The children and parents talked to were able to mention at least one effect of child marriage and prostitution. Some expressed happiness to have learnt the effects of child bearing on the health of teenage mothers. It is anticipated that the information will help children and their guardians make decisions in the best interest of the wellbeing of Children thereby reducing the rate of child marriage and prostitution. The teachers that attended the event were thrilled with the campaign. “This will help children stay in school and get the much needed education thereby retention rate in school,” testified one female Head Teacher.
The awareness campaign made news headlines on several media houses including TV, Radio and print media thereby reaching out to millions of people across the country with campaign messages.