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Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa warns against marrying off girls and chils rapists

28.04.2024 | By Mary Taruvinga

Mnangagwa warns against marrying off girls, child rapists 

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned the nation against marrying off minor girls adding that paedophiles face ruthless punishment.

He was giving his Independence Day speech in Murambinda where thousands thronged the province for the celebrations.

The President’s remarks come at a time early child marriages and rape incidences are on the rise.

Recently hundreds of women and minors were rescued from an apostolic sect headed by former convict, Ishmael Chokurongerwa, in Nyabira following reports of abuse.

Chokurongerws is currently locked up for abusing minors among other criminal allegations.

Mnangagwa said women and children are vital elements of society.

“The safety and security of our women and children is integral to the overall well-being of our society. All forms of violence against women and children are not acceptable in our nation.

“Under the new Marriages Act, those found guilty of arranging child marriages and pledging children for marriage now face deterrent punishment,” he said.

The Marriage Act through section 3 outlaws child marriages.

According to the legislation, no person under the age of 18 is allowed to contract a marriage or enter into an unregistered customary law marriage or a civil partnership.

Any person other than the child, who contracts, solemnises, promotes, permits, allows or coerces or aids marriage of a child shall be guilty of an offence and may be imprisoned for a period of up to five years.

Many young girls in some parts of the country are forced into premature motherhood and early marriages by poverty and religious beliefs.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) preliminary 2022 census report on fertility, 133 455 women aged between 20 and 24 years, representing 16.2 percent of the total, were married before attaining the age of 18.

The proportion was higher at 22.7 percent in rural areas as compared to 7.2 percent in urban areas, the report said.

In most cases cases are swept under the carpet.

Mnangagwa said there is need to protect the girl child.

“Let us protect our children from retrogressive traditions and practices,” he said.

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