'Over 3 000 girls drop out of school to marry'

HARARE - More than 3 000 secondary school girls have dropped out of school since January this year due to child marriages, Plan International gender officer Tino Hondo said.

In a dialogue between ministers of religion yesterday, Hondo said 3 650 girls dropped out of school compared to only 251 boys in the same age group.

She said child marriages have become so prevalent that girls as young as 12 are getting married in Zimbabwe.

“305 girls in primary school dropped out while 13 boys did the same this year. The age of marriage among the girls is dropping because  women currently aged 40-45 years got married at 19. Nowadays, the age has dropped to 16 years and if nothing happens the age will continue dropping,” she said.

Hondo added that 22 percent of girls aged 15-19 are married while two percent of boys are in similar situations.

Reverend Tapfumaneyi Zenda from Christian Voice International said parents and teachers should not be afraid of teaching their children about sex.

“During those lessons on religious and moral education, teachers should talk about sex. The youths are confused and do not have answers. If we shun talking about sex and marriage, the scourge of child marriages will definitely end,” she said.

Grace Ablaze Ministries International founder Ancelimo Magaya said since poverty is among the key drivers of child marriages, government should move to eradicate poverty.

“The issue of child marriages should be approached in a holistic manner. African governments are mandated to eradicate poverty. However, we also have to look at preventative measures to avoid pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Ultimately, government just has to uphold children’s rights to access healthcare and education,” Magaya said.

National director of the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children Taylor Nyanhete said religious leaders should climb down to the level of adolescents in order to understand their problems.

Nyanhete said ministers should create spaces in their communities and not only their churches for youths to speak openly.

“Give them the opportunity to speak about issues that affect them. Listen to their problems and appreciate their view points. Often church leaders judge creating a capacity gap between religious leaders and adolescents. Ministers should learn to link spirituality and reality,’’ Nyanhete said.

Comments (2)

that`s what happens when the economy crumbles and the leadership don't acknowledge its happening . the poor are at the receiving end of poverty and those running the state have their kids enjoying at the expense of the poor. BARE FOOTED they go to school. BARE CHESTED they go to play nxa.

zivhu - 30 November 2016

It's a shame in this 21st century other countries are protecting their young generation

Slim Cat - 30 November 2016

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