Udayavni Special

Theresa Kachindamoto, the woman who rescued around 3,500 child brides in Malawi

Team Udayavani, Sep 1, 2020, 1:31 PM IST

Theresa Kachindamoto is tribal ruler of the Dedza District in central Malawi who has rescued almost 3,500 child brides. She has been nicknamed the “Terminator” of child marriages.

Theresa is the youngest in a family of seven boys and five girls. She was schooled at home and was later selected for Zombe Theological College. She also worked at the college as a secretary for 27 years

After her father passed away, her brother took over the chief’s tasks and later her second brother took over.  But, the royal family eventually came to Zombe and asked her to become the chief.

After becoming the chief, Theresa was shocked to see girls as young as 12 with babies and teenaged husbands

Once she came across a small girl, with a baby crying on her lap, Theresa went to her and asked her to take the baby to her mother. The girl said, “No, no, the baby is mine.” She turned out to be twelve years old  and her thirteen-year-old husband was playing football close by.

UN ranked Malawi 8th out of 20 countries thought to have the highest child-marriage rates in the world. It was then she decided that child marriages must be terminated.

Kachindamoto started her fight by trying to identify the girls who fell victims of this practice, relying on a network of local women, The mother’s group, whose aim is ensuring that the girls who dropped school due to a marriage or a pregnancy resume their education

According to UNICEF, approximately 46% of girls in Malawi are married before the age of 18, while 9% marry before the age of 15

In 16 years of her reign, Theresa has rescued almost 3,500 child brides and helped them to restart their education. Her successful effort of making  Malawi’s parliament to pass a bill in 2015 setting the minimum age for both sexes at 18, gained her lots of international recognition.

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