Zimbabwe Chiefs Council (ZCC) president, Chief Fortune Charumbira has reprimanded men who marry underage girls and described the practice as unZimbabwean.
Speaking in a recent interview with HealthTimes, Chief Charumbira said men who take child brides were doing so as a disguise to abuse children and force them into marriages in the name of culture. He said:
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There is no culture that promotes child marriages. Long ago people married girls at the age of 20 at most.
They first looked if the girl could take care of a homestead, this includes taking care of the household chores.
Unfortunately, chiefs do not have full responsibility over the child marriages issue because of a law called criminal juridistriction. We only take these cases to the courts.
There are so many cases of child marriages happening in communities we will make sure these are reported.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Kushinga Group ISAL annual event held in Nyakudya village, Masembura in Mashonaland Central, Ishamael Kagande, Chief Masembura said they have decided to join the fight against child marriages which has been on the increase especially during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The traditional leader said:
In my area, we have made an agreement with all my village herds that if there is any case of child marriages in the area we will fine the parents who received the bride price for an underage daughter two cows and a goat, the person who married an under-aged girl will also be fined and made to pay two cows and a goat.
This is done to make others realize those child marriages are a criminal offence that is not to be tolerated. After the traditional court procedures, we will then report and hand over both the parents and the in-law to the police to allow the law to take over.
The issue of child marriages has been in the spotlight of late after Annah Machaya, a 14-year-old girl, died during childbirth at a Johanne Marange Apostolic sect shrine in Bocha.
Anna was married off to a 26-year-old man and was denied access to safe delivery at the hospital as she died giving birth at a church shrine.
Anna’s husband, Hatirarami “Evans” Momberume was arrested and his cases are pending before the courts.