The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has joined the fight to end child, early and forced marriages (EFCM) which continue to affect thousands of young girls in the country.
By Garikai Tunhira
Zimbabwe is one of the countries with the highest rates of child marriages in Africa. An estimated 30% girls were being married off before turning 18 and another 4% before they turned 15.
ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai yesterday said his organisation recognised EFCM as a social determinant of health and has launched a campaign aimed at eliminating the practice.
“The campaign will also focus on medical consequences that are associated with EFCM and the predominant need to provide and encourage the seeking of timely and appropriate healthcare services to affected girls and simultaneously raising awareness around EFCM among health workers and health sector players,” he said.
Fambirai said the campaign would involve educational sessions with health professionals, men and boys, as fathers, future husbands and community leaders. He said the meetings were aimed at changing views about early marriages.
Under the campaign, ZADHR will hold mobile clinics targeted at victims and survivors of EFCM to enhance their access to healthcare.
ZADHR chairperson Rutendo Bonde emphasised the importance of enhancing the voices of health workers to end the condemned practice.
“This project will make a significant impact through creation of partnerships with other institutions such as the Young Women Institute and the Women Health Alliance International who are providing various services with regards to EFCM,” Bonde said.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa last week condemned EFCM in Mahusekwa during the $680 million health development fund launch, while Department for International Development (DFID) head of mission Annabel Gerry told journalists at the same function that they were working particularly with adolescent girls was important.
“So, we are funding secondary school education up to ‘O’ Level, the most vulnerable girls from the poorest families to complete ‘O’ Levels and then we are providing them with a source of micro-finance and advice to help them start small businesses,” Gerry said.
“So they have a choice. So they are not forced out of school straight into marriage that they are not ready for.”