Home » Human Rights » Hundreds March Against Child Marriages

Hundredsnbsp;of women staged a peaceful march in Harare yesterday demanding an end to early child marriages before handing over a petition to Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Nyasha Chikwinya.

The procession, made up of young girls and women from diverse political and social backgrounds, started at Town House and ended at Kaguvi Complex, where a representative of the women, gender activist Tinotenda Hondo, handed over a petition to Minister Chikwinya.

The march comes ahead of the early child marriages awareness campaign launch to be held in Harare today.

In the petition, women expressed their concern over the unacceptable high prevalence of child marriages in Zimbabwe, with the national average of 31 percent of girls marrying before the age of 18

“We are outraged with the fact that child marriage robs millions of girls in Zimbabwe of their childhood. It forces them out of education and thus throwing them into deep poverty, with the increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or early death,” reads part of the petition.

Speaking after receiving the petition, Minister Chikwinya commended the women for speaking out against child marriages, which had consequential effects on their future.

She urged young girls to report perpetrators of early child marriages.

“All you young girls must say I want to do best for my country.

“You will only be able to accomplish what you set out to do if you finish your studies.

“Marriage is the last thing you must do in your life, our country needs you young girls for it to develop,” she said.

“To those who have already been married by ‘sugar daddies’ we are coming there to change your lives, give you education and to all churches who accept early marriages we warn you to stop it because if we catch you we don’t care about your position we will have you arrested,” said Minister Chikwinya.

She said the country was losing young people to early marriages, and yet they had a fundamental role to play in the economy.

“We no longer tolerate people who disrupt young girls’ education. I have received your petition and let me assure you that we will work towards ending early child marriages through the use of the law,” she said.

Although the reasons vary with each region, culture and community, the motivation among early child marriages is poverty.

Most impoverished families are marrying off young girls to get rid of a mouth to feed at an early age.

Tradition is also believed to be one of the major reasons fuelling early child marriages despite numerous Government efforts to stamp out the practice through the introduction of several laws such as the Sexual Offences Act to curb the practice.

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