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Churches speak against early child marriages

by Simbarashe Sithole
15 May 2022 at 15:36hrs | Views
Churches in Mashonaland Central have castigated early child marriage which is rampant in the province.

According to Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) Mashonaland Central province tops the list in early child marriages with 49,5% of girls and 6,7 % boys reportedly getting married at a young age.

Johane Masowe Apostolic sect leader in Muzarabani Madzibaba Luke said his sect is fighting early child marriages as it puts young people at risk both health wise and economically.

"As an apostolic sect we are fighting against early child marriages. Of late our churches were well known for promoting early child marriages but we saw that it is against the law and we have since begun preaching against and promoting youths to marry after the age of 18," he explained.

"If these youngstars get in early child marriages it puts their health at risk and they are prone to poverty as they become parents when they are still kids and not financially stable."

Another pentecostal church leader in Mvurwi Apostle  James Kamwiri of Power of Heaven church  called on the government to align laws that permit sexual debut with the age of majority so as to protect children's sexual reproductive health rights.

"I believe those who break the law by marrying young children should be arrested and face stiff sentences because they shutter young people's dreams," Apostle Kamwiri said.

"Right now the law permits children as young as 16 to engage in sexual activity while on the other hand there is a law saying children under 18 years cannot be married. So this creates a loopholes."

Apostle Kamwiri quoted the scriptures as a parting shot.

"Hosea 4:6 says my people perish because they lack knowledge. I believe with better education on dangers of child marriage, proper implementation of the law and counselling of these children from all levels will help reduce such activities in our community."

In Zimbabwe, like other countries, girls who are married under 18 years are often the least educated, poorest and those living in rural areas.

The consequences of child marriage are devastating and often determine the trajectory of a girl's life.

Experts say child marriage does not violate rights of the victim but places the  girls at a higher risk of dying during childbirth and or have their child die before the first birthday. They also face higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence.

In Mashonaland Central the high rate of teen pregnancies have been closely linked to child marriage.

Source - Byo24News