Culture decay perpetuate early marriages: ED



President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the decay of cultural practices in communities is perpetuating an increase in child marriages and teenage pregnancies especially in rural areas.

Mnangagwa made the remarks while addressing traditional leaders in Bulawayo last week.

His call comes when Zimbabwe is battling a sharp increase in teen pregnancies and child marriages. During Covid-19 period between 2020 and 2021 at least 4 959 girls fell pregnant, and 1 174 cases of child marriages were recorded.

“…It is up to us to ensure we continue preserving our culture. This is now why we are fighting drugs. It will destroy our culture and identity and foreign countries will take advantage of us since we will no longer have our culture.

“Western philosophy says children should not be beaten and they can report to the police. But as a government we are saying parents should beat their children if they do wrong,” Mnangagwa said.

In 2021, 14-year-old, Anna Machaya died while giving birth at Johane Marange shrine in Manicaland province.

According to the country’s laws no child under the age of 18 should be married.

Mnangagwa said it was the chiefs’ responsibility to ensure children shun early marriages.

“So right now we are saying chiefs should ensure that people in their areas are getting married when they are of age. I have heard of cases where girls aged eight and nine are getting impregnated. That is not allowed,” Mnangagwa said.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl from Mkhosana Township in Victoria Falls wrote part of her Zimsec grade 7 examinations on a hospital bed soon after giving birth at Victoria Falls Hospital.

The girl was not aware that she was pregnant until a month before giving birth.

The Education Amendment Act that was gazetted in 2020 makes it illegal to expel pupils that fall pregnant.

Prior to the amendments of the law, school authorities could expel a girl for falling pregnant but spare the boy responsible for the same pregnancy, which was seen as discriminatory against the girl child.

Mnangagwa said instilling discipline in children will ensure that the country will have future leaders who will bring about development.

Director of Hope for Children and Youth Foundation, Vusumuzi Ndlovu, told Business Times that young pregnant girls should be given support.

“The government has a policy which allows girls to continue with their education even after they get pregnant. We support that and we encourage all the parents and stakeholders to support these girls. They have a bright future for themselves and for the children which they are taking care of.

“Some of these girls are abused by older men. All these cases should be investigated as most of these children are below the age of 16 which means they can’t consent and the law must be enforced,” Ndlovu said.


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