Child Marriages Remain A Social Scourge

By Ruth Butaumocho

child marriage

Tendai Magwaza is an astute bright young teenage girl, who wants to become a journalist once she finishes school.

She has lived all her life in Madziva, in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central Province, but she yearns for a life in a big city, where she hopes to ply her trade, once she graduates from university.

However, her prayer is not to get married early, like her childhood friend and neighbour, Maidei, who at 16 is now a wife and a mother to two boys.

Sitting quietly in a corner at the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University auditorium, during a public lecture on child marriages recently, Tendai beamed with pleasure, as she counted herself lucky for not being a statistic on the subject under discussion.

As she tried to concentrate on the ongoing debate, she could not help but gloss over and marvel at the eloquence of each speaker who took to the podium to engage on the discourse. “If only I can survive the scourge of child marriage, I will definitely be standing on the very same podium, wearing the same heels, a few years from now,” she whispered to her friend, Ruth, who was engrossed in the debate.

Tendai might be lucky, but not for hundreds of other girls of her age, or even younger who are being married off young, in most parts of Zimbabwe, particularly in Mashonaland Central, where the practice is rife.

While there could be various reasons for the high prevalence of the problem in the region, poverty has been singled out as the major cause that has decimated the population of young girls in the province.

“Most of my friends, who got married, did so soon after Grade 7 after their parents failed to raise fees for them so that they could proceed to secondary school,” suggested Tendai.

However African Goodwill Ambassador for ending child marriages, Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said while poverty could be a contributor in this social ill, the problem was a result of sexual exploitation of hapless girls by irresponsible men.

Speaking during the ZEGU public lecture on child marriages organised by the university and a non-governmental organisation, Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support, Roots, in Bindura last week, Ms Gumbonzvanda said it was important to demystify the myth and the linear argument that young girls were marrying early as an option out of poverty.


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