Government has been urged to enact and enforce laws that protect boys and girls against child marriages, the Senate heard yesterday. Contributing to a motion on the issue, Mashonaland Central Senator Enias Mumvuri (Zanu-PF) said all legislation that would be enacted should be aligned so that there are no loopholes.
“Members of the National Assembly and the Senate agree that there is need to put in place measures that end child marriages,” he said “According to the Constitution, a 12-year-old does not qualify to get a national identification card as they would be a minor.
“So, one then wonders how such a person if it is a girl, can be a wife.”
The motion came in the wake of recent alarming views by Prosecutor General Mr Johannes Tomana that girls as young as 12 should be allowed to pursue marriage if they are not in school. Mr Tomana was of the view that barring such girls from marriage would be unfair if they make up their minds that it is the only route available for them.
Senator Mumvuri said a survey that was carried out revealed that 50 million girls each year are tied in child marriages worldwide and Zimbabwe was mentioned as being active in this regard.
“The areas that were known to be practicing child marriages in Zimbabwe include Chiredzi, Kariba, Makonde, Mbire, Muzarabani and Sanyati,” he said.
“Some of the causes of child marriages include poverty, customary practices, religious beliefs by certain churches and lack of education in farming communities.”
Senator Mumvuri said child marriages would interfere with the children’s education, poverty reduction efforts and the women empowerment and gender equality drive. He urged senators to take the discussion on child marriages to their constituencies by raising awareness of the practice.
Senator Mumvuri urged the media to play a part in fighting child marriages. Masvingo Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T) said parents should not be burdened by their children to the extent of marrying them off at 12 years.
Sen Marava called for the speeding up of the alignment of laws that protect boys and girls from child marriages.
Contributing to a different motion, Midlands Senator Lilian Timveos (MDC-T) said Government should come up with policies to protect loan defaulters to avoid liquidation.
Sen Timveos also urged Government to put in place policies that protect debtors defaulting in repayments from loan sharks and unregistered auctioneers who charge exorbitant fees.