Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe has vowed to continue fighting against early marriages blaming it for negatively affecting the lives of African children.
Speaking at a press conference organised in commemoration of the Day of The African Child, National Director of Women and Law in Southern Africa, Slyvia Chirawu said early marriage is affecting many children in Africa.
“Child marriages result in loss of productivity in all aspects of a girl’s life, it forces them to drop out of school and their babies are prone to insufficient care because of inexperience,” she said adding that 39% of girls in Africa are married before their 18th birthday while 13% are married before they turn 15.
Emphasizing on how child marriages are affecting young girls, Chirawu said, “It is evident that girls under 15 years are five times more likely to die during childbirth than women who are 20 years and above and a child of a mother who is below 18 is 50% more likely to die in the year of birth she added.
“Girls are exposed to higher risks of death, injuries in childbirth, sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer and domestic violence.”
According to Zimstats 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), one in three girls in rural areas are married before the age of 18 with sharp differences between in urban (18%) and rural (43%) areas of Zim.
“Poverty, cultural and religious practices are key drivers of child marriages in Zimbabwe,” said Chirawu.
WCOZ through its members, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) AND Shamwari Yemwanasikana are implementing a two year project to galvanize action against child marriages, running with the theme, ‘Amplifying Community Voices Against Child Marriages’.
The project will be targeting areas with high prevalence for child marriages.
According to UNFPA, high prevalent provinces include Mashonaland East (36%), Harare (19%) and Mashonaland West (42%).
However, Chirawu urged government to take action and implement the constitutional provisions that protect children citing section 56 (3) of the constitution which calls for non- discrimination.