Finalise Children’s Amendment Bill: CSOs

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BY NHAU MANGIRAZI

CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) have called on government to urgently finalise the Children’s Amendment Bill and other pieces of legislation that protect girls from early marriage in the country.

We urge finalisation of the Children’s Amendment Bill and other pieces of legislation that protect girls from sexual violence, sexual exploitation and child marriages. The Public Service ministry must act for Memory and other girls whose stories are not being told, including rehabilitative services for girls caught up in child marriages and sexual exploitation,” the Zimbabwe Child Rights Coalition said in a statement following the death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya on July 15 while giving birth at the Johane Marange shrine in Bocha. They said religious groups should come up with policies that ensure the protection of girls.

The coalition said it had also noted with grave concern that COVID-19-induced lockdowns had exacerbated child rape and child marriages, which it alleged were being swept under the carpet. Meanwhile, the Public Service ministry, in a statement, said social welfare officers in Mutare in conjunction with the victim friendly system were following up on Machaya’s case, as well as ensuring that all children at risk in the country were protected.

“Further investigations are being done in Kwekwe where the deceased’s mother is reportedly staying with a nine-year-old female child who is at risk of being married off to replace the deceased,” read the statement by Public Service minister Paul Mavima.

He said community workers had been mandated by his ministry to raise awareness on children’s rights in communities and identify child protection concerns.

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