FACT Zimbabwe, a Christian based national organization working in and through partnerships to improve health and reduce poverty, has noted with concern the alarming spike in child marriages, teenage pregnancies and sexual abuse cases of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) during this COVID-19 pandemic. Child Marriage and teenage pregnancy infringes and negatively impacts on girls’ rights to survival and development, to education, to good health, to a life of dignity and to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse as enshrined in International Law and the Zimbabwean Constitution.
Whilst efforts have been made by law enforcement agencies to bring to justice perpetrators of these acts of sexual abuse, we bemoan still the:
- lack of investigation, arrest and prosecution of caregivers, parents, relatives or such other lawful custodians who promise, handover, facilitate or pledge a girl into a child marriage, as is provided for in section 94 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23].
- lack of investigation, arrest and prosecution of parents or guardians who neglect, abandon, fail to supervise or expose children to unnecessary suffering or ill-health or immorality, as per section 7 of the Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06].
- Procrastination by our Legislature in passing a definitive law that clearly and simply criminalizes the very act by any adult of marrying a girl under the age of 18 years.
We call upon these state agents to utilise their powers to effect change in our communities and so preserve the dignity and health of our young girls.
We remain committed to tackle child marriages in partnership with other child protection stakeholders through:
- enrolling vulnerable girls into school.
- educating adolescent girls and community members on preventing sexual violence.
- capacitating families with income generating programs to help them be self-sustaining.
- providing psychosocial support and counselling as well as legal services to teenage girls who fall pregnant as or who fall into child marriages.
- engaging adolescent boys in a behaviour-change program to teach them to speak and behave in a manner that shows respect to girls.
FACT Zimbabwe stands with all men and women, whatever tribe or race, who say no to Child Marriages! No to teenage pregnancies; No to sexual abuse of Adolescent Girls and Young Women. Our commitment to seeing our young girls grow up within a family set up, complete their education and live healthy lives free from all forms of violence is resolute. One more child marriage! One more teenage pregnancy! Is One too many.
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRY CONTACT
Mrs Gertrude Shumba| Executive Director | email@example.com,zw | Tel: +263-20-66015/61648
Tinotenda Kabai | Documentation and Communications Officer | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +263-20-66015/61648