Child abusers worse than animals — PM's wife

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth has described people who abuse children as worse than animals.

She was addressing hundreds of Chitungwiza residents and children at the Girl Child Network administrative centre who had gathered to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child in the sprawling dormitory town.

Day of the Girl Child was declared by the United Nations General Assembly last year and is running under the theme “Ending Child Marriages”.

Elizabeth said child marriages negatively affected the lives of girls.

“Those who abuse children are worse than animals. Child marriage is a phenomenon that violates millions of girls’ rights, disrupts their education, jeopardises their health, and denies them their childhood, limiting their opportunities and impacting on all aspects of a girl’s life,” she said.

Elizabeth said there was need to reconsider the lawful age for marriage particularly in relation to girls.

Zimbabwean marriage law allows girls to get married at 16 while boys are only allowed at 18.

“The minimum age for marriage should be moved to 18 years. We should respect our children and not force them in to early marriage, let us educate them instead,” she said.

She told the children that they are the future leaders of the country and the world.

“In you we are looking forward to having the future leaders like Joyce Banda (Malawian President), Joice Mujuru and Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma (the incoming African Commission chairperson),” she said.

Girl Child Network director Edna Masanga said child marriages in Zimbabwe are on the rise.

“There are notorious religious sects and elders who rely on culture to abuse girls. Most girls in the apostolic sects are given away into marriage prematurely,” she said.

“More than 4 189 rape cases were reported last year,” she said.

Masanga slammed Zimbabwean law which she said does not consider the rights of girls.

“I always clash with the law as it is always slow to take action when it comes to abuse cases. It takes time for the culprits to be brought to book,” she added. -
Kaleen Gombera

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