By Kenson McCloud
Machinga Police has reiterated its commitment to ending cases of child abuse in the district which remains one of the districts that record the highest cases of child abuse in the country.
The remarks were made when Breakthrough Action had an interface meeting with faith leaders and the police on Wednesday.
In an interview with the Officer-in-Charge at Machinga Police, Owen Maganga, the police gave assurance that they are working hand-in-hand with all relevant stakeholders including faith leaders to curb the vice.
He said; “We have established church outreach (programs) where we will be visiting churches to teach the masses on the ills of child abuse.
“We also reach out to traditional authorities and schools to raise awareness on evils of child marriages.”
Maganga further assured the faith leaders that their doors are open to receive reports of cases of child abuse.
“Police is there to serve people. That is why we have implored them to come forward to the police with any information they may have for them to get the necessary assistance,” he said.
In her remarks, one of the faith leaders’ representatives, Pastor Getrude Thaulo said religious leaders have a responsibility of reducing cases of child abuse including child marriages since religion has a significant influence on congregation.
“It’s not a single person’s responsibility, it’s impossible (to do it alone). In as much as we understand parents are responsible (for their children) but we (religious leaders) also have a role to play,” she said.
Thaulo observes that levels of poverty will drastically reduce if there is collective effort to ensure that children only get married at an appropriate time.
Chief of Party for Breakthrough Action, Alfred Mang’ando said faith leaders play a key role in behaviour change hence the engagement to capacitate them with skills on how best to approach the message of ending child marriage.
In 2021, Machinga recorded 6028 cases of child abuse which among them were defilement and child marriages.