Minister bemoans early marriages

HARARE - Despite the fact that the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) outlawed child marriages, the practice is still common in remote areas like Hurungwe and Magunje as children are marrying early to fend for their families and also because there is nothing to do after school, Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa said.

With the country’s unemployment rate estimated at 90 percent, the future for most youths looks dim and even dimmer for the girl-child who drops out of school because of poverty, religious beliefs as well as the age old practice of prioritising the boy-child.

Gandawa told a youth training workshop in his constituency last Friday that in order to address the ills of early marriages there is need to empower youths with life-sustaining skills so that they can provide for themselves and not necessarily seek employment and thus escape the cycle of poverty.

“We organised this event because the youths in my community, which I feel is a problem with the youths across the country,  they are always left out of programmes that are rolled out by government so I organised this workshop to them with entrepreneurship skills so as to open their  minds so that the youths can see things that they can do for themselves instead of getting married early,” said Gandawa.

Over 1 000 youths from across Magunje attended the three-day training workshop where experts in entrepreneurship and agriculture took turns to lecture about the importance of self-help initiatives.

“In this area of Magunje, we have a major challenge of early child marriages, so these kids have nothing to do so they end up marrying early and we must all come together to stop this evil practice which robs children of their future.

With the failure to absorb all needy children under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), which used to provide relieve to underprivileged primary school children, because of cash constraints, there are fears that more children will drop out of schools, and in remote rural areas such as Magunje some could be consequently forced into early marriages.

“The challenges that I am talking about that have been leading to early marriages are that the youths do not see the value of education and now we are trying to enlighten them so that they are equipped with life skills that can benefit the community at large,” Gandawa told the Daily News.

Last year, the Con-Court ruled that it was illegal for girls under the age of 18 to get married, in a landmark ruling that won the apex court an award, however, because of poverty, most girls are still getting married before they reach the consent age of 18.

“We must have a vision so that we pursue it and become self-sustaining, we must not seek jobs elsewhere but create them in our communities in line with empowerment...,” Gandawa said.

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