AFRICA Women Filmmakers Trust (AWFT) early this week launched a film documenting the challenges associated with child marriages, which is part of a broad strategy to use video communication as a tool to change attitudes and behaviour.
BY SOFIA MAPURANGA
Speaking at the official launch held at Alliance Française, AWFT programmes director Chido Matewa, said their aim was to ensure that society appreciated the pitfalls associated with often traumatic child marriages.
“The film documents some painful traumatic experiences of girls who were married early and we are hoping that communities will learn of the effects of marrying off their girls,” she said.
The film titled Their Voices is a 27-minute documentary produced under AWFT’s community participatory video project called The Girl Child — Mwanasikana.
The project is supported by the Canadian Local Initiative Fund.
Canadian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Kumar Gupta, said his country was committed to supporting initiatives aimed at ending early and forced child marriages as a way of promoting gender equality and ensuring the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Gupta commended Zimbabwe for setting a very good legal precedence through the Constitutional Court ruling that barred marriages of girls under 18.
“The onus is now on the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) to take lessons from Zimbabwe and find ways of enacting such legislation in their countries,” he said.
“Sadc countries should take lessons from Zimbabwe on the best implementing strategies of such legislation as a way of fighting the scourge that violates the rights of children.”
Gupta said Canada was ready to co-operate with governments and partners in initiatives that made SDGs a reality.
Women’s Affairs deputy minister Abigail Damasane said enacting laws without taking the appropriate action to prevent and stop early child marriages would have no impact on dealing with the perpetrators.
“Laws without action cannot bring any meaningful results in dealing with this challenge that disadvantages girls,” she said.
Damasane said it was important for government and other stakeholders to address issues of women empowerment, information dissemination, environmental degradation and the provision of education as ways of ensuring that girls are not married off early.
“There is so much in the Constitution that speaks to girls and women’s rights. What we need is action,” she said.
Damasane called on stakeholders to unpack the law to the people as one way of ensuring that communities are empowered and know their rights.
“Strengthening partnerships in all sectors including the arts is critical in fighting the evil that comes with early and forced child marriages. Such films should reach grassroots communities in order to effect positive behavioural change,” she said.
In the production of Their Voices, AWFT worked in partnership with the Women’s Affairs and Health ministries and the Women and Health Alliance Zimbabwe.