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PERPETRATORS of early marriages should be given stiffer punishment to deter other would-be offenders, Mkushi district Zambia National Women’s Lobby chairperson Getrude Banda said yesterday.

Ms Banda said in an interview that in Mkushi early marriages were rampant which she attributed to poverty at household level, among other causes.

She cited Fibanga as one area where early marriages were rife and said tangible remedial measures were needed to be taken arrest the situation.

She said many girl children were dropping out of school and got married, a trend which should be stopped by meting out stiffer punishment to offenders.

Mostly women were in the forefront of arranging early marriages for their daughters for them to have son-in laws who could give them material and financial support.

“Laws on early marriages must be stiffened and perpetrators be punished heavily as a deterrent to would be offenders,” Ms Banda said.

And Ms Banda appealed to the government to introduce bursaries for girls retrieved from early marriages to enable them to continue with their education.

She said many children from poverty-stricken households and retrieved from early marriages, were failing to continue with education due to lack of sponsorship, hence they went back into marriages.

She called Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) dealing with child protection and early marriages together with the Police Victim Support Units (VSUs) to enhance sensitisation campaigns against the vice.

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