Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS), an organisation based in Bindura, have added their voice to the fight against early and forced marriages in Zimbabwe. The launch of their campaign, Not Ripe for Marriage, comes at a time when the economic and socio-cultural conditions in Zimbabwe are leading to young girls being forced or getting into marriage at an early age. In some cases young victims of rape are married off to their perpetrators. The campaign’s objective is to make it clear that marrying off children is illegal and a violation of their rights. The Ministry of Gender and other organisations have called for the end to child marriage in Zimbabwe.
Miss Carnival 2014, Gamuchira Kujeke, officially launched the campaign. She said that during her secondary education in Bindura, she was saddened to see empty desks in her class. One of the empty desks belonged to an intelligent girl who was married off into a polygamous marriage and therefore did not sit for her advanced level examinations.
Speaking at the launch ROOTS board member, Beatrice Tonhodayi urged every individual to find a role they can play in this campaign as a generation free from child marriage begins with each and every one of us.
This campaign will see men playing a key role through the engagement of male ambassadors, among them Chirikure Chirikure, a renowned poet, who will play a significant role in spreading the gospel against early child marriages. Chiefs will be engaged to help facilitate dialogue in their areas.
However, the major challenge that exists in Zimbabwe as highlighted by theZimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), a child’s rights body, is the need for the realignment of laws to reflect the legal age of marriage. At the present moment the Customary Law, Marriages Act and Sexual Offence Act make it acceptable for a girl who is 16 years to get married, yet the constitution defines a child as being below 18 years.
And from a personal perspective, while I was attending this event I made a commitment to myself that the son I am raising should not bring me a grandchild while he was still underage.
A link to the article can be found here.