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Bulletin This is a quarterly newsletter of the CCJP of Lilongwe Diocese.
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News & Events

PJ Rescues 16 year Old Girl from Marriage with the Unscrupulous Teacher in Kasungu District

rescueNaphiri (not real name), who is 16 years old, was an intelligent standard eight girl. She was coming from a very poor background, coupled with the fact that she lost her father.

Teachers in Malawi are regarded as second parents since they also shape the behaviour and knowledge of our children. Especially in the rural areas, teachers are still regarded in high esteem. For the poor families with daughters married to a primary school teacher is a passport to a fairly better village life.

However, this Maths teacher had other plans for Naphiri. Day in and day out, he would visualize Naphiri as a second wife. By the way, this teacher was already a family man.

Immediately after Naphiri wrote her Final Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations (MSCE), the maths teacher married Naphiri. When the results of the exams came out, Naphiri was selected to go to a secondary school. However, since she was tied up to her marriage, there was nothing she could do.

To make matters worse, the teacher rented another house and made Naphiri stay with his elder wife’s sister. Naphiri was alarmed to see her husband not performing his marital obligations. The first initial love, so it seemed, had completely evaporated.

In the process of chatting with older women who had experienced years of married life, Naphiri came to realise that she had to do something to woo her husband to start visiting her in the home. She went to her grandmother who gave her love portions to feed the husband.

Before Naphiri had administered the concoction, the husband caught her with the herbs and brought the matter before the elders arguing that the small girl wanted to kill her. However, elders from both parties reached a compromise and an agreement was reached for a formal confession ceremony to be conducted in two weeks time. As Naphiri’ elders were preparing for such a ceremony, they were surprised to see their daughter being served with a Divorce Proceedings Summons.

The girl was subjected to a court proceeding which she described as being bias as she was not given equal opportunity to argue her case. She lost the case and was told to pay a fine of MK5, 350.00. Since the family could not afford the fee, the little girl was locked up in the cell and her mother had managed to borrow only MK1, 500 which made the girl to be released. The mother was told to finalise payment by the 19th of November 2007.
The matter reached CCJP PJ forum, and in analyzing the case, there were a number of issues to look at as follows;

• It was expensive and time consuming to appeal before the High Court. Hence CCJP settled the balance for the girl and held discussions with the parents and the girl herself, for her to go back to school. This was a welcome idea by the girl and parents too.
• Secondly, according to customary marriages, this was not marriage at all since formalities of marriage had never been done. If this was to be regarded as marriage, may be under the Constitution, as marriage by repute.
• Being found with herbs was not enough a ground for divorce. CCJP wondered why the magistrate double punished the young girl by granting the divorce certificate to the teacher and at the same time punishing the girl to pay a fine of MK5000.

Looking at the scenario of appealing the case before a high court, CCJP realised that to hire a lawyer would require an enormous expenditure as the rate is MK8, 000 per hour. CCJP resorted to paying the balance before the magistrate court so as to free the girl.

The girl wanted to go back to school. CCJP already approached the secondary school to which she was selected and it accepted the girl to begin school in January 2008.

Meanwhile, CCJP has opened up a case against the teacher.

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