AREAS with a high concentration of gold miners have the highest number of child marriages and teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe, a new research has revealed.
A survey on child marriages conducted by Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) showed that illegal gold miners trigger child marriages.
Revealing the preliminary findings on the national enquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls and child marriages, ZGC chairperson Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said gold panners lured young girls with luxuries and money in return for sex.
“In Mashonaland East — Mudzi district, wards 13, 14, 15 and 18 are considered hotspots for child marriages and sexual exploitation mainly due to gold panning activities in these areas. The gold panners lure young girls with “nice things” and end up impregnating them,” Mukahanana-Sangarwe said.
“In Matabeleland South — Umzingwane district, teen pregnancies are usually a result of child marriages. Amakorokoza activities include sexual relationships with girls and young women.”
She also said some areas of Gweru were hotspots for child marriages due to poverty and the prevalence of gold panners.
“In Midlands province, Gweru rural district areas such as St Faith and Shamrock are popular gold panning areas. Children as young as 13 years are involved in sex work at St Faith shops, where there is gold panning,” she said.
“Poverty was cited as a major push factor which made the girls vulnerable, resulting in children running away from their homes. Parents in the area are not valuing education.”
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Mukahanana-Sangarwe expressed concern over two nine-year-old girls who were impregnated in the country, and urged Parliament to monitor the implementation of the Marriage Act.