NEARLY half of the children in Mashonaland Central are being married off by their families in violation of laws against child marriages, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa said yesterday.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Auxillia, who was speaking at a strategic meeting on dealing with child marriages at the Zimbabwe House yesterday, revealed that schoolchildren were being married off by their parents to elderly men, resulting in some of them dying during labour or being exposed to HIV infections.
“Child marriage is not uniformly prevalent in Zimbabwe, prevalence is highest in Mashonaland Central were 50% (of children) are married off followed by Mashonaland West at 42%, Masvingo 39%, Mashonaland East 36%, Midlands 31%, Manicaland 30%, Matabeleland North 27%, Harare 19%, Matabeleland South 18%, Bulawayo 10%,” she said.
During the meeting which included officers from the Health, Education and Justice ministries, Auxillia said: “The government of Zimbabwe has put in place institutions, laws and policies that guard against child marriages. This is a commendable move which will see us through in the eradication of girl child marriages.
“As the First Lady of Zimbabwe, a champion and an ambassador of maternal and child health, I endeavour to raising the shield against child marriages using my voice and being an advocate of such an important fora where we have the sharing of knowledge and ideas.”
Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima said it was shocking that 50% of children were being married off by their parents in this day and age, noting that more should be done than just talking from offices.