Vendors Voice

Traders speak out on child marriages

Informal traders have decried far reaching effects of child marriages to the girl child after attending a public hearing on national inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable and marginalised groups, organised by Zimbabwe Gender Commission at Stanley Hall.

This comes after an alleged case of exploitation of minors in Marange, an incident of a young girl who was impregnated and married off to an older man, the girl was reported to had later passed on while giving birth.

According to UNICEF (2022) Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. In the Zimbabwe context it is criminal offence to facilitate such acts. Child marriage compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement and placing her at risk of domestic violence.

“The effects of child marriage on the health and wellbeing of girls are far-reaching and lifelong. It harms their overall health and socio-economic wellbeing, the survival of their children, and the prosperity of their family and community,” said Stella Fumayi.

“Parents must stop marrying off their children to older men out of greediness, said Rachel Ncube,” an informal trader. “Some families believe child marriage can provide financial benefits, whereas many child brides hope marriage will provide the opportunity to go to school. However, young girls typically end up falling pregnant soon after, or being kept at home to carry out household chores,” continued Ncube.

“Youth centres must be refurbished and equipped with resources for young people to utilise and spend time at,” said Debrah Mukasa.

“Policies are needed to prevent child marriage and protect women who marry as children from abusive relationships and those which are there must be enforced strictly,” said Dlomo from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise. and those which are there need to be enforced strictly

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