THE case of 15-year-old girl Anna Machaya, who died while giving birth at the Johane Marange Apostolic Church shrine in Manicaland in July has stirred many debates, but also exposed the slowness of our Parliament to resolving critical issues around the protection of the girl child.
According to the Constitution, only those persons who are 18 years and above can legally marry. However, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act says girls as young as 16 years of age can consent to sex. The result is young girls getting pregnant after sex, but being unable to marry.
This needs to be urgently corrected as it has implications, not only on our youths, but on our culture. Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi should drop his condescending attitude to the issue and push for the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act to be aligned to the Constitution.
Ziyambi is also trying to arm-twist chiefs into consenting to the abolishment of paying of lobola, under the guise that Zimbabwe was signatory to a number of international conventions.
Lobola is a sacred tradition that binds two families together, and has been more respected than the recent Western concept of marriage vows before the courts of law.
Parliamentarians must at all times lead in preserving the country’s culture, which is the basis of our identity.
In our culture, marriage has to be blessed by two families, and payment of the bride price is part of the process.
Not that lobola is buying someone, but it’s just a token of appreciation for the family whose son is asking for the woman’s hand in marriage!
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Zimbabwe should not sacrifice its culture under the guise of meeting some international trends.
There is a big difference between Europeanisation and modernisation.
There should be no debate about the age of consent. In fact, Parliament should accelerate laws that protect young girls from being taken advantage of.
We are tempted to think that the majority of parliamentarians are perverts, who feel the law infringe on their shameful proclivities.
Most of the problems we face as a country today can be resolved by observing cultural values that brings out the best in a society.
Zimbabwe can be a modern country, but still can nurture dignified people.
Its high time parliamentarians consider laws that bring communities together than those that break up societies and families in the name of modernisation.
For a long time, economists have linked some cultural beliefs to higher levels of economic development.
Research and studies have associated increased social trust with higher rates of trade, innovation and development in a country’s financial sector.
We accept that there are some cultural practices that need to be abolished to protect our young, our society, but we can also improve on the best.
We need to build a Zimbabwe that is dignified, with values that are passed on to future generations.
Parliamentarians have a duty and responsibility to guarantee that.