Ending child marriage is at my heart- IG

Inspector General of Police Merlyn Yolamu with World Vision's Francis Dube

World Vision Malawi has unveiled the Inspector General of the Malawi Police service Merlyn Yolamu as its Ambassador for the 'It takes Malawi to End Child Marriage' campaign at an event held in Lilongwe.

During the crowning event, the country’s first female Police chief was visibly and audibly excited to be given the task and described it as such a great and honour to have been considered.

She admitted fighting for the rights of a girl-child is a challenging assignment as some of them are actually being forced by parents or guardians to get married due to economic, cultural and other reasons hence make it tough for those trying to protect the girls.

As a mother of three, she stated that it breaks her heart to see a girl dropping out of school in preference to a marriage.

Some of the child violations are rape, defilement; trafficking and early marriages sometimes committed by those entrusted to protect them.

Targeted: Girls like the ones pictured will be the focus of the IG's campaign

“Ending child marriage is at my heart. I’ve been doing such works from long long time ago. I’ve brought girls back to school sponsoring them in many ways; but I didn’t know that all those things that I have been doing, God was seeing them and World Vision has indeed recognized the works that I have been doing.

“Being a woman who is the Inspector General of the Malawi Police service, one; am a role model to many girls and because my work mandates me to work against issues that violate girls, gender based violence.

 “We realize that early marriage is part of gender based vioIence and because my work entails me to enforce laws that relates to gender based violence, this is one of the core functions of the Malawi Police service even without World Vision; we are at the centre of enforcing laws that are going to protect our girls in Malawi so that they should feel protected and pursue their education because an educated girl will go a long way”.

Yolamu observed that girls who have attained enough education are empowered in their decision-making in regards to family planning and life in general.

She called for a multi-sectoral approach from the legislature, executive, Non-governmental organizations and the judiciary in formulating policies against early marriages and protecting them from any form of violations.

Dube: The IG is a key person in terms of the enforcement of policies laws that protect the children

World Vision Malawi National Director Francis Dube underscored the need to intensify protection measures for the girl-child especially as Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism on violence against women.

In 2017, the organization alongside its partner Vision Fund launched the end child marriages campaign making violence against children in all its all forms socially unacceptable, while holding those in power to account.

Five years into the campaign, Dube testified the positive gains towards ending the vice courtesy of the tireless efforts of children and young leaders, World Vision advocates and supporters, faith leaders and partners.

The organization also works with communities in addressing the root causes of violence that often lead to abuse, exploitation, trafficking and other forms of violence against children.

The IG with World Vision's Dr. Lucy Kachapila. Pics courtesy of World Vision Malawi

He hailed its community-led systems approach to It Takes Malawi to End Child Marriage, combined with World Vision's global It Takes a World to End Violence campaign which has and continues to catalyse a global movement of people committed to keeping children safe from harm.

Dube justified the choice of Yolamu as their Ambassador describing the involvement of the office of IG being part of this movement as an honour.

“The IG is a key person in terms of the enforcement of policies laws that protect the children so its’ actually important that we work with the and partner with them and create that level of awareness and understanding and understand some of the constraints that they also face when it comes to enforcement so that we can join hands and support in building capacities in those areas of constraints for the police”

Some of her roles are to promote the aims of the campaign and build a consensus around the need for a national involvement in championing children’s rights and to provide additional insight to the campaign on the views of such stakeholders.