Child marriages have become rampant in farming compounds where desperate parents are trading children for material goods, Zvimba district development co-ordinator Desmond Gumbochuma said.
The Population Solutions for Health, together with the Swedish embassy, on Friday launched a campaign to stop child marriages under the theme Give Me a Chance, I’m a Child, Not a Bride.
Speaking at Matoranhembe High School during the launch, Gumbochuma said economic and cultural challenges were fuelling cases of child marriages in farming compounds.
“As a district, we are facing challenges, especially in farming compounds. We have many compounds because we are a farming community and there are fathers still abusing children by exchanging them for money. This is killing their future,” he said.
“As Zvimba, we are seeing all these problems, coming from an economic and cultural angle. We are not doing away with our culture but when children come from initiations such as chinamwali we are not giving them to marriages but preparing them.”
He said some men were taking advantage of less privileged young girls and statistics showed that most of the children in the district were getting married before the age of 16.
Gumbochuma implored young girls to use mobile phones responsibly, adding that young people were more interested in keeping pornographic materials.
“Drug and substance abuse here in Murombedzi is becoming a topical issue as children are taking mutoriro (crystal meth),” he added.
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Zvimba West constituency junior councillor Moreblessing Makina weighed in, saying child marriages had proven to be detrimental to the girl child.