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DECLARATION

I, Grace Namutulo Mwala do declare that the work presented in this document is truly my
own work and that all the work of other persons used in this research paper has been truly
acknowledged. It is neither an imitation nor a duplication of someone else’s work. I further
declare that this paper has not been previously presented in this university or any other
learning institution for similar purposes.

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DEDICATION

I wish to dedicate this piece of work to my mother, Alice Wainyae Mbwainga, who has
always believed in me. I love you Boma.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wish to thank God and praise him for all he has done for me and for making it possible for
me to write this research paper. To my husband Coster Kabulo Chiyota, I say thank you for
allowing me to pursue the qualification of my choice and for the love and support you have
exhibited from the day you put a ring on my finger. I wish to thank my children, Lweendo for
giving me the challenge and Lunaale for taking over the role as mummy during my research
process.

To my two wonderful men of the South, Mr. Kabutu Chuunga and my brother-in-law, Mr.
Justice Nzala, I say thank you for guiding me in writing this research paper and also
supporting me in all the trips I made to Mukuni village during the data collection process.
This is my first research paper and I certainly hope that it will not be the last. It was a
pleasure working with you gentlemen.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION .................................................................................................................... i
DEDICATION ....................................................................................................................... ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................. iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ...................................................................................................... iv
LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................................... vi
LIST OF APPENDICES ...................................................................................................... vii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS ............................................................ viii
ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................................... ix
CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY ........................................................ 1

1.0 Overview ..................................................................................................................... 1


1.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1
1.2 Statement of the problem ............................................................................................ 1
1.3 Description of the research site ................................................................................... 2
1.4 Significance of the study ............................................................................................. 3
1.5 Scope and limitations of the study .............................................................................. 4
1.6 Organisation of the study ............................................................................................ 5
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................... 7

2.0 Overview ..................................................................................................................... 7


2.1 Child marriages ........................................................................................................... 7
2.2 Zambian laws on marriage .......................................................................................... 8
2.3 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 9
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY .................................................... 10

3.0 Overview ................................................................................................................... 10


3.1 Participants ................................................................................................................ 10
3.2 Data collection methods ............................................................................................ 10
3.3 Data collection procedure.......................................................................................... 11
3.4 Data analysis ............................................................................................................. 12
3.5 Summary ................................................................................................................... 12
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS ................ 13

4.0 Overview ................................................................................................................... 13

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4.1 Influencers or drivers of child marriage in families and communities in Mukuni
Village. ................................................................................................................................. 13
4.2 The social, tradition and cultural environment that promote child marriage at local
levels. 15
4.3 The extent of child marriage in Mukuni Village ....................................................... 15
4.4 Summary ................................................................................................................... 16
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUMMARY ....... 17

5.0 Overview ................................................................................................................... 17


5.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 17
5.2 Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 18
5.3 Recommendations ..................................................................................................... 20
5.4 Summary ................................................................................................................... 20
REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................... 22
APPENDICES ...................................................................................................................... 23

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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Mukuni Village Map .................................................................................................. 3
Figure 2: Young girls with children in Mukuni Village due to Child Marriages ...................... 4
Figure 3: Interviews with child married couples ..................................................................... 14

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LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix I ............................................................................................................................... 23

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against


Women

CRC Conventional on Rights of Children

DHS Demographic and Health Survey

NGO Non-Governmental Organization

UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund

UNFPA United Nations Population Fund

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ABSTRACT

Child marriage, defined as a legal or customary union before the age of 18, threatens
children’s well-being and constitutes multiple violations of their rights. The aim of this
research was to study child marriages in Zambia and established a case study on Mukuni
village. The choice of this topic was to assess child marriages and its prevalence in certain
communities of Zambia.

The research attempted to address this problem by identifying the influencers or drivers of
child marriage within families and communities in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni Chiefdom
of Kazungula district. It also tried to establish the social and cultural environments and
traditions that promote or prevent child marriage at local levels. The study further tried to
assess the extent of child marriage in Mukuni Village.

The theory section of this research starts with a detailed study on child marriage so as to give
a clear understanding of the theories underlying early marriages. It starts with a section on
Child marriages with a global context which is later followed by a section on The Zambian
laws on child marriages. In short the aim of this section is to get a closer look on how what
child marriage and then develop an easy approach of conducting a research on it.

The research used the qualitative method. The qualitative method was used in in-depth
interviews which only required the quality of answers from the respondents from the teachers
and health personnel. It also involved observations and focus groups of the couples that
married early and also the youths who are perceived to be almost getting married at young
ages. The in-depth interviews and observations were conducted in Mukuni village in May,
2015.

The results of this research were clear and met the aims and objectives of the thesis. The
objectives set included (1) to identify the influencers or drivers of child marriage within
families and communities in Mukuni Village, (2) to establish the social and cultural
environments and traditions that promote or prevent child marriage at local levels, and (3) to
assess the extent of child marriage in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni Chiefdom of Kazungula
district. The researcher undertook the research in Mukuni village using in-depth interviews
and observations as a data collection tool.

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CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

1.0 Overview
This Chapter looks at the Background to the study, the Statement of the problem with
Research objectives. The other sections that follow include the Descriptions of the site
involved in the study, the Significance of the study and finally the chapter concludes with the
Scope and limitations, and Organisation of the study.

1.1 Introduction
Child marriage, defined as a legal or customary union before the age of 18, threatens
children’s well-being and constitutes multiple violations of their rights (Brown, 2012). In
numerous contexts around the world, the practice has been shown to have profound physical,
intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts, especially for girls (Brown, 2012; Jain and
Kurz, 2007; Malhotra et al., 2011; Mathur et al., 2003; Nguyen and Wodon, 2012). It is most
prevalent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and least common in North Africa, the
Middle East and South-East Asia (UNICEF, 2005). Globally, those children most affected by
child marriage are those who are poor, live in rural areas, and are out of school without
opportunities for labour force participation (Singh and Sumara, 1996). Girls are significantly
more likely than boys to be married before the age of 18 (Mathur et al., 2011; UNICEF,
2005).

1.2 Statement of the problem


Zambia has one of the highest rates of female child marriage in Africa, with a reported
national prevalence of 42 per cent (UNFPA, 2012). Abundant evidence on its adverse
consequences has galvanized a series of actors at the national and local levels to address
concerns related to the practice. Interventions aimed at legislative change and revised service
provision in education, health and child protection have been underway for several years. A
motivational boost was given to this work in April 2013 when the Ministry of Chiefs and
Traditional Affairs, supported by the then First Lady, Christine Kaseba started a nationwide
campaign to end child marriage. It is widely acknowledged that there is a need to back this
campaign with a strong evidence base from research.

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The major source of information on the extent of child marriage in the country is quantitative
data contained in the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and 2010 Census. These
data show that there has been little to no change in the national prevalence rate since 2002
and that the practice is most common in Eastern Province (60 per cent), followed by Luapula
(50 per cent), Northern (48 per cent), North-Western (47 per cent), Central (46 per cent),
Southern (38 per cent), Western (34 per cent), Copperbelt (32 per cent) and Lusaka (28 per
cent) (DHS Zambia, 2007;Central Statistics Office, 2010) These marked differences in
prevalence by area of residence suggest that more information is needed on how the social,
historic and economic reality in which children and families live influences or mitigates
decisions related to child marriage. This problem caused the researcher develop the topic and
targeted Mukuni Village in Kazungula District of Southern province. To get to the bottom of
this problem the researcher came up with the following specific objectives:

1. To identify the influencers or drivers of child marriage within families and


communities in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni Chiefdom of Kazungula district..
2. To establish the social and cultural environments and traditions that promote or
prevent child marriage at local levels.
3. To assess the extent of child marriage in Mukuni Village.

Research question that arise after these objectives are:

1. What are the influencers or drivers of child marriage within families and communities
in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni Chiefdom of Kazungula district?
2. What are the social and cultural environments and traditions that promote or prevent
child marriage at local levels?
3. To what extent has child marriage gone in Mukuni Village?

1.3 Description of the research site


In the Kazungula District of Southern Province lies the rural Mukuni Village. It is just seven
kilometres from the world heritage site of Victoria Falls and was founded in the thirteenth
century by Bedyango the Leya Tribal Matriach, it was originally called Gundu. However it
was renamed in the seventeenth century to Mukuni Village after and in honour of Mukokalya
Mukuni N’gombe.

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Figure 1: Mukuni Village Map

Source: Google Maps

Mukuni Village is situated on a dry, sandy knoll and has a population in excess of 8000, and
happens to be the main village of the Mukuni Chiefdom. The soil is relatively infertile and
they cannot rely on agriculture; therefore they have turned to tourism. Mukuni Village is now
a tourist destination, introducing an insight into the Leya people’s cultural inheritance; with a
wonderful developing curios market, selling intricate wood carvings, stoneware, jewellery
and baskets.

1.4 Significance of the study


The findings, conclusions and recommendations of this research are meant to help
government through the Ministry of Sport, Youth & Child Development and Ministry of
Chiefs and Traditional Affairs assess how child marriages have affected youths especially
girls and giving ways on how to mitigate the problem. The study is also anticipated to help
religious bodies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in finding ways and
approaches of helping reduce child marriages.

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The research is also aimed at individual families who follow and embrace cultures that
deprive girls the rights and choice to refuse to marry at a time they feel it is not suitable for
them. The study is as well likely to contribute in one way or another to the marriage body of
knowledge by adding child marriage information.

1.5 Scope and limitations of the study


The study borders around child marriage in Mukuni Village of Kazungula district in Southern
province. Mukuni Village was selected because it is a village near the researcher’s residence
where issues of child marriage could easily be found. The study looked at child marriage
cases in Mukuni Village and tried to identify the influencers or drivers of child marriage
within families and communities in the village. The study also tried to establish the social and
cultural environments and traditions that promote or prevent child marriage at the local
levels. In addition to that, the research also assessed the extent of child marriage in Mukuni
Village.

Figure 2: Young girls with children in Mukuni Village due to Child Marriages

Source: Photographed by Researcher

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The respondents in this study were teachers, health personnel and young couples involved in
early marriages. Teachers and were interviewed to find out on the cases and causes of child
marriages in the village as they had an upper hand on child behaviour since they interacted
with the children at school on a daily basis. The health personnel being the people who
administer women who are pregnant were also interviewed so as to give their statistics and
views on child marriage. The interviews were also extended to women and men who married
early in order to find out the circumstances in which they found themselves to get married at
an early age. Furthermore, observations were also conducted to get as much information
about child marriage as possible from the Mukuni village. In reality, a research with complete
findings required coverage of the entire country so as to give an accurate picture of child
marriages in Zambia as a whole. However, this research is limited to Mukuni Village being a
village easily accessible by the researcher.

1.6 Organisation of the study


Chapter one provided the background of the research. A general understanding of child
marriages is given followed by The statement of the problem. The chapter then describes and
the research site and thereafter the significant of the study follow. The scope and limitation of
the study, and organisation of the study conclude the chapter.

Chapter two covers the literature related to child marriage. This chapter sets the research in
motion by looking at what others have said on child marriage. It starts with a section on Child
marriages with a global context which is later followed by The Zambian laws on child
marriages. The chapter concludes with a Summary.

Chapter three discusses the research methodology used in the collection and analysis of data.
This chapter gives an outline of the suitable procedures and methods that was applied in the
research according to the demands of the research topic. The chapter concludes with the
limitations encountered during the research and survey.

Chapter four presents the findings and interpretation of the research. It starts with a
presentation of the analysed data and the interpretation of the findings from the data
collected. This chapter concludes with the limitations encountered from the data collection
process and finally a summary concludes the chapter.

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Chapter five being the last chapter gives the conclusions and recommendations based on the
presented and interpreted research findings in chapter four. The research questions are
deemed answered and the objectives of the research achieved.

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CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 Overview
This chapter sets the research in motion by looking at what others have said on child
marriage. It starts with a section on Child marriages with a global context which is later
followed by The Zambian laws on child marriages. The chapter concludes with a Summary.

2.1 Child marriages


Internationally, ‘child marriage’ is defined as a formal or informal union, including religious
or customary marriage, of anyone younger than 18. Zambia has ratified the following
conventions and agreements focused on the reduction and elimination of child marriage. The
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): Although child marriage is not explicitly
addressed in the CRC, it is linked to a number of other rights and frequently highlighted as a
serious rights violation by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A ‘child’ in this instance
is anyone younger than 18 years. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Under CEDAW obligations, “States Parties shall
take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters
relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality
of men and women”. CEDAW goes on to state that the “betrothal and the marriage of a child
shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to
specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official
registry compulsory”.

 The Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and


Registration of Marriages: In addition to outlining the need for consent and
registration of all marriages, this convention calls for legislative action to specify a
minimum age for marriage. It specifies that a marriage entered into by any person
younger than this age should be considered illegal, except where a competent
authority has granted a dispensation, for serious reasons, in the interest of the
intending spouses.
 The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: The charter states
that “child marriage and the betrothal of girls and boys shall be prohibited and
effective action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify the minimum age of

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marriage to be 18 years and make registration of all marriages in an official registry
compulsory”.
 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of
Women in Africa. Article 6 of the protocol promotes the equality of men and women
in all aspects relating to marriage and, among other things, highlights the need for
consent and marriage not to take place before the age of 18.

2.2 Zambian laws on marriage


The Zambian legal system is dualist in nature and, as a result, marriages can take place in
accordance with either customary or statutory law.

The Marriage Act of Zambia establishes the legal age for marriage at 21 years of age and
requires that consent be obtained for anyone younger who wants to marry (without defining
who can give consent). For those requiring consent, section 33 stipulates that both parties
must be at least 16 years old – otherwise the marriage shall be void. However, the provision
can be averted by an application to a judge of the High Court, who can consent to the
marriage if the particular circumstances of the case are not contrary to the public interest. The
Marriage Act of Zambia is not absolute in terms of defining the minimum age for marriage; it
is open to interpretation on the issue of consent or circumstances in which a marriage
involving persons younger than 21 might take place. According to the Penal Code
Amendment Act of 2003, defilement or sex with anyone younger than 16 is prohibited. This
legislation was also expected to act as a major deterrent to child marriage, but “despite these
efforts, early marriage persists in Zambia”.

Under customary law, the age of consent is lower than that defined in the Marriage Act and is
often described as coinciding with puberty. Statutory law is supposed to take precedence over
customary law, but this is often not the case in practice. According to previous studies and
reports, the majority of Zambians, especially those living in rural areas, follow customary law
because it is the legal system with which they are most familiar. This study substantiates
these findings: in all the communities where data were collected, the vast majority of
respondents were not aware of statutory laws regarding children or failed to see their
relevance in relation to the marriage practices. Decisions regarding child marriage were not
informed by statutory laws or the definitions enshrined within them.

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2.3 Summary
This chapter set the research in motion by looking at what others have written on child
marriage. It started with a section on Child marriages with a global context which was later
followed by The Zambian laws on child marriages. The chapter concluded with a Summary.

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CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.0 Overview
This chapter starts with a section on the type of participants involved in the research. It
further goes into a section on Data collection methods which give a view of what the
researcher did in the field while collecting the data for the research. Furthermore the research
goes into sections on Data collection procedures and Data analysis and finally concludes with
the summary.

3.1 Participants
Five teachers from both Mukuni Primary school and Mukuni Secondary School and two
health personnel from Mukuni Village Clinic were interviewed. In addition to that, four
young couples were also interviewed to determine the circumstances that led to their early
marriage. The interviews were conducted by the researcher in the month of September, 2016.

3.2 Data collection methods


This research adopted a qualitative approach. The qualitative research method was suitable
because it involved the quality of responses from teachers and health personnel. In addition to
that, the qualitative research was suitable because the type of research involved a social
aspect of life with traditions which required interviews and a lot of observations in collecting
the required data.

To achieve the objectives of the research, a semi-structured in-depth interview was conducted
to determine the dynamics of teacher and health personnel experiences and views on child
marriages in Mukuni village. The young couples involved were also assessed on their views
about getting married early. The interviews revolved around “What are the influencers or
drivers of child marriage within families and communities in Mukuni Village? What are the
social and cultural environments and traditions that promote or prevent child marriage at
local levels? To what extent has child marriage gone in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni
Chiefdom of Kazungula district?”

In addition to the interviews, the lifestyle observation of the people of Mukuni village were
conducted to further witness the actual setting especially how these children who were

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victims of child marriage ended up in such marriages. The observations determined the
challenges they faced though local people said Christmas and New Year were the best times
to take an observation because most of them get married during such festive seasons.

3.3 Data collection procedure


To capture the essence of the phenomenon under investigation, letters of request were
addressed to Mukuni Village Clinic, the headmasters of the schools and to the respondents
informing them of the nature of the research, the topic to be discussed and extent of their
participation.

After seeking their permission and willingness to participate, an appointment was scheduled
for a one-on-one interview based on their availability. To elicit natural responses for
questions, all the respondents were interviewed in locations of their own choice and the
interview lasted at least for 30 minutes to one hour per respondent.

The in-depth and semi-structured interviews were conducted in English language since the
respondents were proficient in English but they were given the freedom to answer the
questions in other languages especially Tonga since it was the familiar language used in the
region. In addition to that, the researcher allowed any other native language that the
respondents were comfortable to use so as to ensure the richness of data collected. The
interview sessions for teachers and health personnel had closed and open-ended questions to
allow the researcher to follow up points which needed elaboration and to clarify questions
that would be misunderstood by the respondents. The interview focussed and centred on the
child marriages and the problems that influenced the children to get into marriage. The
interviews were used following Best and Kahn (1993)’s advise that interviews are
particularly appropriate in getting responses from respondents.

For the lifestyle observation, the researcher made several trips to Mukuni village while
interacting with the youth and even participating in local activities such as organising dances
for tourists. The researcher was also made to interact with drunkards in beer halls since such
gatherings are perceived as major influencers of sexual activities.

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3.4 Data analysis
According to Yin (2003), “Data analysis consists of examining, categorizing, tabulating,
testing, or otherwise recombining both quantitative and qualitative evidence to address the
initial propositions of a study.” All the responses of the respondents interviewed and analysed
using Microsoft Office Excel due to budget constraints.

3.5 Summary
This chapter started with a section on the type of participants involved in the research. It
further went on and discussed the Data collection methods which gave a view of what the
researcher did in the field while collecting the data for the research. Furthermore the research
talked about the Data collection procedures and Data analysis and finally concluded with the
summary.

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CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

4.0 Overview
This chapter analyses and presents the findings collected from the interviews. It has several
sections divided into subsections. Section one talks about the influencers or drivers of child
marriages with familes and communities in Mukuni village while the second section looks at
the social, tradition and cultural environment that promote child marriage at local levels. The
chapter continues with a section on the extent of child in Mukuni Village. Finally the chapter
concludes with a summary of all the findings gathered.

4.1 Influencers or drivers of child marriage in families and communities in Mukuni


Village.
The main influence of child marriage as established from the respondents is poverty. This is
commonly experienced in transactional marriages a type of marriage largely conforming to
the stereotypical view of child marriage, wherein an older man enters into a relationship with
a girl. Such marriages are generally frowned upon from a moral or social point of view yet
tolerated from an economic perspective because they can bring a series of financial or
material benefits to a girl and her family. In Mukuni village communities where this study
was conducted, poverty is widespread and families are often unable to meet the needs of their
daughters and other household members. In such situations, girls may be open to the
advances of older, wealthier men.

In addition to that, respondents also stated that transactional marriages were also established
for other reasons. They stated that ability of both boys and girls to do adult work is an
important consideration in the decision to marry in Mukuni village. Respondents across the
village stated that boys may be expected to marry to increase domestic help for their family
or to provide additional agricultural labour. All the same, girls were also encouraged to marry
in order to augment the household labour force. Male orphans living with grandparents or
other members of their extended family were cited as the group most likely to marry for this
reason.

Furthermore it was also observed that retroactively ‘consented’ marriages were seen to be the
most common. This type of marriage often follows a self-decided marriage among peers (and
could be considered a subset of that type). It takes place when families come to accept, albeit

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reluctantly, a union that they previously did not recognize. In most cases, pregnancies among
children are causes of such marriages. This is a situation where a girl falls pregnant from a
boy who is not ready to marry. Both families are not happy about everything at the beginning
but later accept the situation. Upon accepting the situation, a process of negotiation then
begins regarding the payment of bride price or the need for both families involved to accept
the marriage. The birth of a child can be an important influence in both families’ decisions to
accept such situations as marriage.

Figure 3: Interviews with child married couples

Source: Photographed by author

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4.2 The social, tradition and cultural environment that promote child marriage at
local levels.
It was observed that traditionally and culturally early marriages take place among children in
Mukuni village as a sign of duty or responsibility. This type of marriage is undertaken
because it is ‘socially necessary’ to rectify a situation that might bring shame or dishonour to
families. It is typically established as a means of addressing pregnancy outside of marriage.
The tradition in many but not all parts of Zambia is for a boy or an adult male to marry a girl
if he impregnates her. Sometimes, marriages of this kind can be avoided if payment of
‘damages’ as a result of pregnancy is agreed by the families involved (such as money or
cattle paid by the boy or man). Chiefs and their representatives may become involved in such
processes.

The researcher also observed that just like it is a common culture prevalent in many
communities to pre-arrange or promise marriages, the Mukuni village culture is not left out
on that. Agreements relating to marriage may be established before girls are born, when girls
are young or when girls reach puberty. In such cases, an older suitor will make a proposition
to a family indicating that he wants to marry the girl when she comes of age (typically after
she has reached puberty). Arrangements may involve the man participating in or taking
responsibility for the costs of the girl’s education or other needs while she is growing up.

4.3 The extent of child marriage in Mukuni Village


The traditional or ideal marriage happens to be the common type of marriage in Mukuni
village. This type of marriage is one that follows accepted social practices involving consent
from families and payment of bride price prior to marriage. Ideally, the decision to marry is
made freely and not as a result of coercion or as a means of addressing other issues, such as
pregnancy or extreme poverty. Many marriages involving two children as opposed to a child
and an adult were widely perceived not to be following this process.

Co-habitation-based marriage is also a common type. Often linked to situations in which


children decided on their own to live together, this type of marriage is based on the length of
time that a couple have resided together. In situations in which children have been living as
together as ‘spouses’ for periods of three months or more, the relationship comes to be
understood as a marriage by the wider community. This type of marriage is also reflected in
statutory laws, which recognize such unions as marriage.

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There is also a self-decided, peer marriage which is a type of marriage that occurs when the
decision to marry is made by children, and familial consent is not necessarily sought or
granted (as in elopement). Marriage of this type is seen in a negative light by adults because it
does not involve the agreement of the families involved or an agreement regarding bride
price. As such, it does not conform to and is not seen as legitimate under statutory or
customary law.

4.4 Summary
This chapter analysed and presented the findings collected from the interviews. It has several
sections divided into subsections. It discussed and outlined the causes of child marriage as
perceived from the village tradition, culture and the environment. It further looked at the
extent of child marriage in Mukuni village and concluded with a summary.

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CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUMMARY

5.0 Overview
This being the last chapter looks at the conclusions, recommendations and summary of the
findings of the research. It starts with an introduction which is followed by the conclusions.
The recommendations and summary conclude the chapter.

5.1 Introduction
The purpose of this study was to learn more about child marriage in Mukuni Village a village
in Southern Province of Zambia. However, the researcher did not start out by asking about
‘early’, ‘forced’ or ‘child’ marriage. The subjective and context-dependent nature of these
terms makes them problematic in a research setting. Accordingly, respondents were asked to
define marriage in general and then further probed on the ages at which marriages were
taking place in the community, among whom and why. This approach aimed to highlight the
perspective of community members rather than that of the researchers and to determine if the
practice of child marriage in each setting conformed with or deviated from more normative
understandings of marriage. It was also employed to avoid the use of terms often construed as
judgemental.

Marriage is a revered institution in Zambia. Traditionally, the custom has been treated with
great respect, and the ritual of marriage is practised according to certain ‘correct’ procedures,
including the giving of tokens of commitment, negotiations and ceremonial feasts that
involve not only the individuals getting married but also their families and communities. This
study found that in Mukuni village where the data were collected, there is a clear and widely
held view of what constitutes a ‘proper’ or ‘legitimate’ marriage, how it should be arranged
and the different steps that should be followed in advance of it taking place. Here are some of
the views given by respondents:-

“Male and female agree to come together to make a union and have a
family and ask permission from their elders. Have a wedding, kitchen
party or any form of gathering of both sides of the family to celebrate
and bless their union.” A married young woman from one couple
aged 18–24. “Marriage here is when a boy or man and a girl or
woman comes together by way of living under one roof. But a boy or

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man should pay dowry to the mother of the girl if the marriage is to
be recognized officially by both family members of the girl and the
community as well.” A boy stated during lifestyle observation with
married boys aged 13–17.”

Following the ‘proper’ process for marriage was deemed very important because it ensures
that parents and families are involved in and approve the decision to marry.

5.2 Conclusions
Child marriage is widely practised in Mukuni Village where data were collected. This study
found that there are many types of child marriage existing in Mukuni Village. The most
common unions are those that take place between peers – girls (from age 12 or 13) and boys
(from age 14), usually with an age difference of about two to three years. The following types
of marriage emerged through the research. These forms can be distinguished from each other
primarily on the basis of the process undertaken and how parents and communities view or
respond to them. There is considerable overlap between these typologies; some marriages
move between categories as circumstances change. Here are the types of marriages
discovered in Mukuni Village:

 The traditional or ideal marriage: This type of marriage is one that follows accepted
social practices involving consent from families and payment of bride price prior to
marriage. Ideally, the decision to marry is made freely and not as a result of coercion
or as a means of addressing other issues, such as pregnancy or extreme poverty. Many
marriages involving two children as opposed to a child and an adult were widely
perceived not to be following this process.
 Self-decided, peer marriage: This type of marriage occurs when the decision to marry
is made by children, and familial consent is not necessarily sought or granted (as in
elopement). Marriage of this type is seen in a negative light by adults because it does
not involve the agreement of the families involved or an agreement regarding bride
price. As such, it does not conform to and is not seen as legitimate under statutory or
customary law.
 Co-habitation-based marriage: Often linked to situations in which children decided on
their own to live together, this type of marriage is based on the length of time that a
couple have resided together. In situations in which children have been living as

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together as ‘spouses’ for periods of three months or more, the relationship comes to
be understood as a marriage by the wider community. This type of marriage is also
reflected in statutory laws, which recognize such unions as marriage.
 Duty or responsibility-based marriage: This type of marriage is undertaken because it
is ‘socially necessary’ to rectify a situation that might bring shame or dishonour to
families. It is typically established as a means of addressing pregnancy outside of
marriage. The tradition in many but not all parts of Zambia is for a boy or an adult
male to marry a girl if he impregnates her. Sometimes, marriages of this kind can be
avoided if payment of ‘damages’ as a result of pregnancy is agreed by the families
involved (such as money or cattle paid by the boy or man). Chiefs and their
representatives may become involved in such processes.
 Retroactively ‘consented’ marriages: This type of marriage often follows a self-
decided marriage among peers (and could be considered a subset of that type). It takes
place when families come to accept, albeit reluctantly, a union that they previously
did not recognize. A process of negotiation then begins regarding the payment of
bride price or the need for both families involved to accept the marriage. The birth of
a child can be an important influence in both families’ decisions to accept such
situations as marriage.
 Transactional marriages: This type of marriage largely conforms to the stereotypical
view of child marriage, wherein an older man enters into a relationship with a girl.
Such marriages are generally frowned upon from a moral or social point of view yet
tolerated from an economic perspective because they can bring a series of financial or
material benefits to a girl and her family. In Mukuni village communities where this
study was conducted, poverty is widespread and families are often unable to meet the
needs of their daughters and other household members. In such situations, girls may
be open to the advances of older, wealthier men. Transactional marriages were also
established for other reasons. The ability of both boys and girls to do adult work is an
important consideration in the decision to marry. Respondents across the village
stated that boys may be expected to marry to increase domestic help for their family
or to provide additional agricultural labour. In addition to that, girls were encouraged
to marry in order to augment the household labour force. Male orphans living with
grandparents or other members of their extended family were cited as the group most
likely to marry for this reason.

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 Pre-arranged or promised marriages: Agreements relating to marriage may be
established before girls are born, when girls are young or when girls reach puberty. In
such cases, an older suitor will make a proposition to a family indicating that he wants
to marry the girl when she comes of age (typically after she has reached puberty).
Arrangements may involve the man participating in or taking responsibility for the
costs of the girl’s education or other needs while she is growing up.

5.3 Recommendations
Despite the people of Mukuni village knowing what marriage is, there is an unparalleled
treatment and behaviour on marriages involving material gains. Parents and relatives of the
girls under marriage become agitated to see someone trying to prevent such a marriage due to
young age or any other deemed violation of the society norms as their principle focus is to get
away with the dowry money. This has left girls vulnerable to all sorts marriage abuse by
family members as they are forced to stop school and marry men they do not love. For this
reason, the government through the Ministry of Social Welfare should move in and sensitize
people in communities on the importance of educating girls and not forcing them into
marriage.

In addition to that, boys seem to have little to do as they are always found drinking and
talking about girls. The Ministry of Chiefs and Tradition Affairs should work hand in hand
with chiefs and come up with ways that would make boys engaged with productive activities
all the time so that early pregnancies that force child marriages can be prevented.

Furthermore, a topic like on child marriage has country wide prevalence. This simply means
that, another research at the national level should be conducted by the government or any
other institution so as to give a countrywide view of the child marriage problem in Zambia.

5.4 Summary
This research studied child marriages in Mukuni village. The objectives set included (1) to
identify the influencers or drivers of child marriage within families and communities in
Mukuni Village, (2) to establish the social and cultural environments and traditions that
promote or prevent child marriage at local levels, and (3) to assess the extent of child
marriage in Mukuni Village in the Mukuni Chiefdom of Kazungula district. The researcher

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undertook the research in Mukuni village using interviews as a data collection tool. It is
deemed that the research questions are answered and research objectives met and resolved.

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Mathur, S., Green, M. and Malhotra, A. (2003). Too young to wed: The lives, rights and
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Nguyen, M.C. and Wodon, Q. (2012). Global trends in child marriage. Washington, D.C.:
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UNICEF. (2005). Early marriage: A harmful traditional practice: A statistical exploration.


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The butterfly tree (2016) The History and Current people of Mukuni Village
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APPENDICES

Appendix I

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