Speaking at a recently held workshop in Kadoma on child marriages, Captain Emmanuel Moyo from the Salvation Army said child marriages were rife in the district and the issue cannot be kept under the carpet but should be dealt with by the church itself to help curb the malpractice.
“The truth of the matter is that child marriages are taking place, but it’s not all churches which are practicing that illegal act. But we are saying that as mainline churches, let children grow and let them be adults first before they are married,” said Captain Moyo.
Child marriages have spiked due to the introduction of lockdowns to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Families have been facing challenges, the biggest being poverty which has made some parents to marry off their young children so that they can have food to take care of the rest of the family.
Captain Moyo added church leaders had also partnered with the police in Kadoma to ensure that people know that children have rights and that whoever violates these children’s rights will face the wrath of the law.
“I am also working with the police in Kadoma in the victim friendly unit. We move around in different churches having awareness campaigns on child marriages. We make it clear that if you violate a child’s right you will be arrested,” he said.
Bishop Jerifanosi Munda of United Apostolic Faith Healers Church said the culture of marrying off children was once practiced in some of the Apostolic sects, but they had since abolished it as they now see the importance of children’s rights.
“Yes, it was happening and we cannot deny it, but we are now saying as church leaders let us stop the practice; if anyone marries off a child they should be arrested,” said Bishop Munda.
Child marriages have been largely practiced by churches that are deep into spiritual things, where children are married off as a result of an “instruction” that would have been given by the Holy Spirit.
The church leaders in Kadoma and Sanyati have also partnered with various organisations like Gender and Media Connect, Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender, Berina Arts, ministry of Women Affairs and other different organisations under the Partnership for Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls in Southern Africa to ensure that women and children are not abused, but live in a safe society.