BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
A CABINET minister has said government has developed strategies aimed at ending child marriages, a vice threatening the development and well-being of young girls.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats), 33,7% of girls aged below 18 are married off.
In an interview, Small and Medium Enterprises, Women and Youth Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the ministry came up with the strategies to empower women and enhance their participation in the fight against child marriages.
“Among other things the strategies focus on promoting retention of girls in schools, challenging social and cultural norms that promote child marriages, economically empowering women and girls and enhancing participation of young women in the fight against child marriages,” Nyoni said.
“Government has developed a high-level political compact on ending gender-based violence and harmful practices. The compact is a recommitment by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of his Zimbabwe and other stakeholders to end violence against women and girls, including child marriages.”
Child marriage is rampant in Zimbabwe, especially among apostolic churches.
A landmark 2016 Constitutional Court judgment declared child marriages unconstitutional and set 18 as the minimum marriage age for girls and boys, without exception.
“Government is committed to ending all forms of gender-based violence. Section 80 of the Constitution outlaws all customs and practices that infringe on the rights of women and this includes violence committed in the name of culture,” Nyoni added.
“The national gender policy provides for protection of women from gender-based violence through strengthening of the legal and policy frameworks as well as strengthening institutions for prevention and response.”