The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises and other stakeholders are investigating the death of Memory Machaya, a 14-year-old girl who died while giving birth at a shrine in Bocha, Mutare District.
Reports suggest that the deceased teenager who was forced to drop out of school when she was in form one, gave birth to a baby boy but bled through the mouth and nose, and immediately died.
Introducing the Pindula News Mobil App
Download from Google Play Store
Calls for government to act have been increasing.
The government in association with other relevant stakeholders is investigating the case and says once substantial evidence is gathered, the law will take its course.
The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the case shows the scourge of teenage pregnancies and child marriage that continue to affect the lives of thousands of girls in the communities. Nyoni said:
We continue to urge and encourage people from diverse backgrounds including religions and cultures to respect constitutional provision.
I also want to unequivocally state that child marriage is nothing other than child sexual abuse disguised as a marriage and there is no reason for tolerating an abuse and it will not be tolerated even if attributed to any religious or cultural practice. Religion and culture should not be used to sanitise a violation of other people’s rights.
Child marriage is a violation of multiple rights of the girl child that include, denying her the right to education, right to health and well-being. It exposes the girl child to gender-based violence, HIV and other health-related conditions. It puts the young mother and her child into a cycle of poverty.
Marrying off our girls before attaining age of marriage also denies the communities where they live and the nation at large of their contribution to national development.
She added that stakeholders should join hands to denounce child marriage adding that there is nothing that can justify forced marriages.
The United Nations has also condemned the reports of the sexual violation of under-aged girls, including early forced child marriages.
The UN also said a situation where one out of three girls in Zimbabwe will be married before the age of 18 years is also not acceptable.
More: The Herald