'Early marriages ruining girls' lives'

HARARE - Katswe Sistahood, a women’s pressure group, has said the Zimbabwean society and government are depriving girls’ basic rights to health, education, development and equality through early marriages.

Talent Jumo, Katswe Sitsahood coordinator, said the government has a responsibility take to task all parents who marry off their underage girl.

“Society is to blame for young girls who are married off,” Jumo said. “People choose to sit, whisper and laugh amongst themselves, judging parents of the young girls who marry them off young instead of standing up and stopping the crime.

“If communities are unable to protect these children, our government should be able to come and say as government we are here to protect this girl. We have policies in place to help enforce the protection of children.”

Jumo said despite a decree demanding that young girls stay in schools after falling pregnant, more still needs to be done .

Several studies acknowledge that accurate data on the true extent of child marriage is difficult to obtain because many marriages go unregistered and girls’ ages may be falsified.

Tradition, religion, and poverty continue to fuel the practice of child marriage, despite its strong association with unfavourable reproductive health outcomes and the lack of education for girls.

Katswa Sistahood is an organisation that works with women on sexual and reproductive health rights and issues that affect women.

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