Child Marriages Empty Mbire Schools

By Paidamoyo Chipunza and Abigail Mawonde

An average of 240 pupils have dropped from school since the beginning of the year in Mbire district, Mashonaland Central province, chiefly because of early child marriages.

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The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development confirmed the statistics yesterday during a workshop on gender mainstreaming in Ruwa.

Deputy director for gender in the ministry Mr Stephen Nyaruwata said the district was reporting an average of 40 child marriages a month.

He said Makuvatsine Secondary School had the highest number of school dropouts.

The majority of them were from Wards 1, 2, 5 and 22.

These are near the Zambian border.

“Issues of gender mainstreaming are beyond power struggles between men and women. They have all to do with national development.

“Imagine just one district in Mashonaland Central Province has reported an average of 240 drop-outs since the beginning of the year. How many professionals have we lost there?” said Mr Nyaruwata.

He said Government was establishing gender committees across the country to help ensure gender equality.

This will ensure women get equal opportunities as their male counterparts.

These committees will work with gender focal persons to help intensify Government’s response.

Responding to questions from journalists during a press conference yesterday to mark the Day of the African Child set for today, Women and Law in Southern Africa national director Ms Slyvia Chirawu blamed child marriages on weak laws.

Ms Chirawu said there was need to quickly harmonise current laws with the national Constitution to protect young girls from abuse.

She said it was important to repeal laws that permitted child marriages.

Child marriages must also be criminalised under the Criminal Law Code.

Ms Chirawu urged the courts to severely punish offenders.

Source: allafrica.com

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