Almost 34 per cent of girls under the age of 18 are married, while 2 per cent of their male counterparts get married before reaching the age of 18, the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (Zimstat) has said.
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) says the statistics are concerning and show that child marriages and the exploitation of young women are rampant.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Friday, ZGC chairperson, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe called on the public to work together to end child marriages. She said:
Child marriage is a violation of human rights and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission is concerned about the surge in the practice as well as the exploitation of young women and girls.
The Zimbabwe Statistics Agency indicates that 33.7 per cent of girls under 18 are married, which means that one in three girls under 18 are married.
Zimstat also cited that, 2 per cent of boys get married before reaching the age of 18 years. We, therefore, need to take urgent action to address the scourge.
Collectively, we have a responsibility to ensure that children, both boys and girls, enjoy their fundamental rights.
… protection of girls from any malpractices and social ills that may be sanitised through religious, traditional customs, belief systems and cultural norms is non-negotiable.
Hence, the commission is duty-bound to fulfil its constitutional mandate to ensure the prevailing of social justice and remedying of violations of rights relating to gender
Mukahanana-Sangarwe said ZGC conducted a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ inquiry on child marriages, sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls from April 4 to April 8.
The inquiry will be followed by provincial hearings starting with Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland South from May 8 to June 10.
A report will then be compiled and delivered to Parliament and other State organs for implementation in terms of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act.