Action needed against Early Marriages

by Kundai Marunya

The mid day sun was at its acme when a woman emerged from a semi built hut in Chief Nyashanu’s area of Buhera, heavily pregnant she was. However, her importance does not depict a child bearing woman as she is probably supposed to be at school doing her form two.

Tariro Gondo (15) not her real name is married to 46 year old George Makina and is expecting her second child inside two years.

This is one of the many cases that young girls in this part of the country endure under the semblance of religious doctrine and most of the marriages get the blessing of their parents who are deeply rooted in church beliefs other than the effects that are associated to marrying off their daughters.

In another form of gender based violence the young girls are denied access to clinics or hospitals and as a result are forced to give birth under the supervision of inexperienced birth attendants and the prospects of deaths to the young expecting mothers is high.

“Many of these women are forced into marriage not because they want but they do so due to their father’s pressure” said one elderly woman

At a nearby polygamous family were another young girl was married off, they are in a jovial frame of mind however, the ‘mothers’ are between the ages of fourteen and fifteen and have had miscarriages in their first pregnancies.

Sobbing her tears Tariro laments her ordeal saying were it not for her parents she would have better off with her life as she was bright at school.

“I was bright at school but my parents forced me to marry when I was only thirteen and this is because of their religious beliefs otherwise my life would have been better” said Tariro

Poverty has been ascribed as the major cause for early marriages and religious doctrines being another cause as most of the early marriages are frequent among a prominent apostolic sect in the area.

In the face of all these malevolence church organisations and other pro minded non-governmental organisations have upped the cadence to stop what they term heinous act.

The president of the Apostolic Churches Council of Zimbabwe Bishop Johannes Ndanga says instead of confronting churches that practice in such acts they resolved to carry awareness programme that seek to redress.

“At our December congress we decided that we engage churches that dwell in such practices so that redress the problem, this we shall do by carrying out awareness campaign and I am happy to announce that some churches have heeded the call” said Bishop Ndanga

Recently at men’s symposium hosted by Roots an (NGO) against early marriages Chief Seke condemned these practices saying it is killing the future of young talented girls who can be versatile to the economy.

“The practices are killing future talents of young girls who can be useful to the economy and it is from platforms as these that we need to carry out awareness programmes” said Chief Seke born Stanley Chimanikire.

The onus should not be on individuals, churches and organisations but it should involve everyone for it to gain ground.

Coming across Tariro’s situation one is bound to feel pity for the young woman as she was supposed to be at school and being heavily pregnant at such a tender age her dreams are shattered.