Govt urged to enact laws to end child marriages

via Govt urged to enact laws to end child marriages – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 5, 2015 by Veneranda Langa

A MOTION calling for enforcement of national laws with a view to end child marriages in Senate has attracted heated debate with senators using sexually explicit language in a bid to prove girls aged 12 were very innocent and unripe for marriage.

The motion was introduced in the House by Midlands senator Lillian Timveos (MDC-T) and seconded by Bulawayo Metropolitan senator Siphiwe Ncube (MDC-T).

If adopted, Timveos’ motion wants government to enforce laws raising the age of marriage to 18 years for both girls and boys.

While debating on the motion Bulawayo Metropolitan senator Agnes Sibanda (MDC-T) narrated how she and other girls were very innocent at the age of 12, which made it awkward for them to be considered for marriage.

“A child at 12 years is not mature, and what would men see on that child — because I remember at that age we used to put on traditional attire that covered our front parts but left our backs bare, and we used to run around the compound like that,” Sibanda said.

“When it was raining we would even run around the compound naked — but the men then did not see us as ripe enough for marriage.
Girls at that age would even sit with their legs apart without underwear but we never witnessed cases where men thought of abusing them.”

Male senators also supported the motion with Mashonaland West Senator Tapera Machingaifa (Zanu PF) saying at 12 years children had no aptitude to run homes.

“They do not know how to run a home, how to cook or look after a child and what a husband is for; it causes problems. Even a boy child too cannot be a father,” Machingaifa said.

Timveos’ motion wants government to identify and target ‘hot spots’ areas and communities with high proportions and numbers of girls at risk of child marriage, as well as risky cultural and religious practices and beliefs.

She also wants government to set up prevention programmes that empower girls at risk of child marriage and address the root causes of the problem such as poverty, ignorance and negative cultural and religious practices and beliefs, as well as mitigate the harmful impact of child marriage on girls by providing care and support programmes for victims and survivors.