Human Rights commission raps child marriages

via Human Rights commission raps child marriages | The Herald August 27, 2015 by

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has castigated child marriages as a violation of young people’s rights and called for the total stamp out of the practice.

The commissioners paid a courtesy call on Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who is responsible for National Healing, Peace and reconciliation at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare yesterday.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Commission chairperson, Mr Elasto Mugwadi said they briefed VP Mphoko about their mandate given that their work was related to that of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

“The ZHRC and NPRC actually dovetail because in terms of our jurisdiction, our work starts from February 13, 2009 and does not go backwards,” said Comm Mugwadi.

“But this commission may come up with matters which are called continuing human rights violations and they will then pass them on to us. So, we were discussing those issues with the VP.

“The issues which came up related to our areas of operation. We were discussing the issue of cultural exchanges to ensure that some of those cultural practices which we have always clung to because we consider them to be customarily, traditionally or even in terms of religious beliefs to be correct or right have to be revisited.

“We were talking about child marriages, people who can be betrothed especially during famines when they are not yet mature to be married. The Constitution says a child is someone who is under the age of 18. But we have situations where people who are slightly over 12 years, 13 years are being married whether forcibly or by arrangement between the two marrying families. That is wrong.”

“We were also advising the VP that we are going to have an indaba on Friday (tomorrow) in Epworth where we have invited all players, development partners on the human rights to participate, including the local community and discuss ways and means that we should adopt as a country to ensure that we stamp out this evil of marrying children when they should be developed until maturity.”

Commissioner Mugwadi said the availing of funds by Treasury albeit little enabled them to carry out their mandate.

He said while they appreciated the economic challenges that the country is going through, they expected Treasury to avail funds for them to carry out investigations on human rights violations including gender-based ones.

Comm Mugwadi said there were high chances that women in some rural areas were not enjoying the provisions of the Constitution on gender equality and parity because of ignorance.

As such, he said, there was need for them to be conscientised.