The United Nations (UN) Zimbabwe has urged the Government to fast track the adoption of the Marriage Bill, which outlaws child marriages. The Bill that is before parliament seeks to ban the marriage of anyone below 18 years and prosecute anyone involved in the marriage of a minor. This follows reports that a 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange died while giving birth at an apostolic shrine in Manicaland. Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has launched an investigation into the matter.
An online petition titled, Justice for Memory Machaya, calling on the ZRP to arrest the perpetrators has garnered over 60 000 signatures. In a statement, UN Zimbabwe Communications Officer, Ruvimbo Mashavi said they are concerned about reports of sexual violation of the under-aged girls including early forced child marriages which continue to surface.
“The United Nations in Zimbabwe notes with deep concern and condemns strongly the surrounding circumstances leading to the untimely death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange, who died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine,” said Mashavi.
“Sadly, disturbing reports of the sexual violation of the under-aged girls, including early forced child marriages continue to surface and indeed this is another sad case. A situation where one out of three girls in Zimbabwe will be married before the age of 18 years is also not acceptable.”
She said the current trend of unresolved cases of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe, including marriages of minors cannot continue with impunity.
“All forms of violence and early forced marriages severely affect the mental and physical health of girls and is a violation of the convention of the Rights of the child which Zimbabwe is a signatory,” said Mashavi.
The UN Zimbabwe said they welcome the investigations announced by the ZRP and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission into the death of Memory Machaya and look forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice.
“Efforts by the Government, Civil Society and faith-based organizations and development partners, including the Spotlight initiative, a partnership between the UN and the European Union must be strengthened to end violence against women and the girls,” said Mashavi.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology