Family marries off 13-year-old girl in Zhombe
A family in Zhombe got into trouble after they tried to marry off their 13-year-old daughter.
The girl, who cannot be named, had to be rescued from the ‘in-laws’ after having stayed there for some days following the intervention of the community.
A former junior councillor got wind of the matter and raised alarm leading to the intervention of the community.
The villagers led by the traditional leaders enlisted the services of the police to rescue the girl who had been forced to marry a 21-year old man.
The police confirmed the incident and said they took the girl back to her parents.
“I can confirm that we are handling a case in Zhombe involving an under age girl who had been married off by her family.
“We have since intervened and as I speak to you, she is now back at her parents’ home. For now, I cannot give you finer details because we are still carrying out investigations,” said Midlands police spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko.
Ms Nomsa Mpofu, a girl child empowerment advocate, said the issue was brought to her attention by a former junior councillor through her WhatsApp platform.
“I run a WhatsApp platform called Mining Girl Child Indaba where such issues are discussed. A former child councillor whom we are not going to name for ethical reasons, was the one who raised the issue and I in turn called the police who also did a splendid job,’’ said Ms Mpofu.
The sickening incident occurred under Chief Gwesela in Zhombe who confirmed handling the case at his traditional court.
“There are actually two different cases which are almost similar. The first one is that one which you are talking about of a family that tried to marry off their daughter due to hunger.
“They have since appeared before my court and I have fined both the family that tried to marry off their daughter and the family that accepted the child as their daughter in-law,” said Chief Gwesela.
He said in the second case, the girl was lured into marriage by a gold panner.
“The second one is almost similar and they also appeared before my court. I fined both families again and ordered the girl to be taken back to her family,” he said.
Chief Gwesela said he will not allow the abuse of young girls in his area.
“As Zhombe chief I am clear on that, I will never allow marriages of under age girls because that is taboo in my area.
Those who are caught abusing girls will face the music. We have said as chiefs we are not going to let such things happen while we watch,” he said.
This comes hard on the heels of the story of a 14-year-old girl who died while giving birth at an Apostolic shrine in Manicaland Province.
Pressure groups and child rights groups have also castigated the issue of child marriages, which are unconstitutional as the legal age of marriage is 18 years.
Statistics have shown that Zimbabwe has a 33,7 percent prevalence rate of child marriages with 5,4 percent of the girls getting married before they reach the age of 15 while two percent of boys in Zimbabwe marry before they reach 18.
Research carried out by Shamwari Yemwanasikana, a civil organisation, revealed that the major drivers of child marriages are forced marriage due to cultural and religious practices, poverty, circumstances, including teenage pregnancies and poor implementation of laws and policies that protect the girl child.
Zimbabwe Gender Commission CEO Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa is on record applauding traditional leaders for taking a leading role in eradicating child marriages.
She hailed the chief’s council for taking a stance after they vowed to fight child marriages.
Recently, First Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa also warned girls against taking their bodies as ‘playgrounds’ as he waded in the fight against child marriages.
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