BY Garikai Mafirakureva
Over 20 girls between the age of 12 and 15 years are giving birth at Chikombedzi Mission Hospital every month, with the youngest being a 12-year-old girl, who bore twins in 2015. Chikombedzi records over 150 deliveries per month of which over a tenth of them are girls below 18 years of age as child marriages in the area go unabated.
This was revealed by Ellen Chirozva, the nurse-in-charge of the hospital’s maternity department during a tour of the institution by Chiredzi South MP, Kalisto Gwanetsa, Chiredzi Rural District Council chief executive officer Isaac Matsilele, the acting district medical officer David Tarumbwa and other officials from various sectors.
“It is a very sad situation. We have over 150 deliveries every month and over 20 of them are underage girls. In the case of the 12-year-old it was her first time because, according to her, she never had any periods before which means that was the first egg that got fertilised. When she first came with a bulging stomach we told her to go for scan because we did not suspect that she was pregnant.
“With her small stature we thought it was some other ailment. Unfortunately, the parents could not afford the fees, so we had to monitor her stomach growing big everyday until one day she went into labour and gave birth to twins. Right now she is here again expecting her second delivery.
When asked if it could be the culture practiced in the area as the main cause of such high numbers of young girls getting pregnant at such a tender age, she said she was not so sure.
“I am not so sure if it is the culture or something else. Some blame it on the initiation process that is done during the Komba, but I do not want to tread on cultural issues. I just want to stick to what concerns my profession only. Those are issues to be discussed in higher offices if they want to find out the main cause of the problem,” she said.
A junior police officer stationed at Chikombedzi Police Station present during the tour, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had made several arrests of adults impregnating minors. Although he could not give the actual figures, he said such cases were rampant in Chikombedzi.
“We even have a case of Alfred Makondo, a 64-year-old village head of Maponyani village, who was arrested for marrying a 14-year-old girl. Unfortunately, when he was granted bail, he
skipped the country before justice could take its course,” he said.
Gwanetsa refused to comment on the matter. “I don’t have a comment on that,” he said.