News:Child Marriages And Abuse A Concern In Mashonaland Central. Factors Such As Poverty, Religion Blamed

<vote /> A report compiled by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development following public hearings with various stakeholders on the prevalence of child marriages in Mashonaland Central Province revealed that public officials, including legislators, police officers, teachers and traditional leaders, as the main culprits in the sexual exploitation of minors.

Presenting the first report of the findings in the National Assembly yesterday, committee chairperson Beatrice Nyamupinga said submissions from all the districts that the committee visited in the province raised concern over a high prevalence of child marriages,

The committee found that communities in Mashonaland Central were concerned about incidences of sex with minors involving public officials or figures such as police officers, MPs, youth officers or teachers.

She said some of the major factors and conditions promoting child marriages were poverty, lack of alignment of marriage laws with the new Constitution, lenient sentences given to cases regarding statutory rape or consensual sex with a minor, practices of child marriages by some churches particularly the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect as well as low levels of education, among others.

Nyamupinga urged the police to take action on perpetrators of abuse,

The Zimbabwe Republic Police must, with immediate effect, enhance patrols in villages and engage the broader community leadership and schoolchildren on laws against child abuse, domestic and gender-based violence, and child marriages.

Nyanga North MP Magadzire Nyanhongo said the committee noted that traditional leaders aged between 70 and 80 years were said to be married to teenage girls.

Binga South MP Joel Gabbuza told Parliament that at one school in Binga, 16 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy, adding in Kamativi a girl gave birth while writing school examinations.

Read More: The Herald, NewsDay

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