Child Marriages escalate in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has a 33.7percent prevalence rate of child marriages with 3.4 percent of the girls getting married before they reach the age of 15 years whilst 2percent of boys in Zimbabwe are married before their 18 th birthday.

The prevalence of child marriages is more more than doubled in rursl areas than in the urban areas, with Mashonaland central topping the list were 50 percent of children are married off, Mashonaland West at 42 percent, whilst Bulawayo has 10 percent.

Major drivers of child marriages are some girls opting to get married, forced marriages due to cultural and religious practices, poverty and circumstances that may include teenage pregnancies.

Existing interventions on ending child marriages include 2016 Constitutional Court ruling which made it clear that all marriages below the age of 18 years are illegal in Zimbabwe.

Covid 19 pandemic has also contributed to the escalation of child marriages as some girls have been eloping due to grinding poverty induced by the lockdown period.

An unprecedent rise in teenage pregnancies live in relationships among child headed households played a major part in child marriages.

According to Chaka. Ruzvidzo of Shamwari Yemwanasikana during a Child Rights Coalition Conference recently held in Kwekwe, some challenges that emerged during the conference report are quite varied.

“The issue of birth certificate registration makes it difficult to prove that in some cases the girl involved is a ‘ child’. The Domestic Violence Act criminalizes child marriages but is not clear on who should be arrested.

Also there is a limited funding on programming aimed towards eradicating poverty which is one of the major drivers of child marriages “, said Ruzvidzo.

Some of the challenges include that cases of child marriages are not being brought forward to the courts of law, but rather dealt with at family level and it becomes difficult for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

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