Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said stiffer penalties will be introduced against child rights abusers amid a rise in cases of under 10-year-olds getting pregnant.
Chiwenga who doubles as the minister of Health and Child Care made the remarks while speaking at a belated World Children’s Day commemoration in Harare Monday where he was the guest of honour.
His remarks come when two separate cases of nine-year-old minors who were sexually violated and impregnated are yet to be finalised.
Chiwenga said the government is worried about children’s well-being and was coming up with tougher measures against child abusers. He said in an address aired on national television:
The government is deeply concerned with the sad cases of under-10 getting pregnant.
Stiffer penalties will be introduced and will have to be done not only to the perpetrators but I think also as parents, we have a responsibility to look after our children.
It does not matter what people can say. The child is somebody who has not yet reached 18 years, there is no issue of peer pressure or consent, up until one turns 18…I am happy parliament passed that.
We are ramping up programmes to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated. It is now imperative that the perpetrators are dealt with in terms of the law of the land.
Chiwenga’s remarks come as he is embroiled in a legal battle with his ex-wife Marry Mubaiwa over custody of the couple’s three minor children whom he has kept away from their mother for over three years.
Mubaiwa claims since she was forced out of the couple’s matrimonial home, she has not seen her children except in pictures often shared via social media.
Chiwenga secured a court order which claims Mubaiwa is mentally and physically unstable to be with her children.