UN calls for action on child marriages

File pic: Young mother

THE United Nations (UN) has called on government to enforce laws on child sexual abuse following the death of 15-year-old Nokutenda Hwaramba.

She died recently while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine in Bikita, Masvingo province.

Several rights activists have blasted government for its lackadaisical approach in dealing with cases of sexual violence against children.

“The UN in Zimbabwe strongly condemns the untimely death of Nokutenda Hwaramba, a 15-year-old minor, who reportedly died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine,” UN Zimbabwe said in a statement.

“All forms of violence and early forced marriages contravene the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. The United Nations in Zimbabwe urges the authorities to conduct investigations into this matter and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice.”

Last year, another girl, Anna Machaya (14), died while giving birth at Johane Marange shrine in Manicaland province, which sparked outrage among the public.

Early this year, 15-year-old Ferby Munyafi of Chiadzwa village in Marange died from excessive bleeding while delivering under the watch of a faith healer.

The UN implored government to respect the dictates of the international statutes against child marriages.

“Under the Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative 1 Country programme, a high-level political compact to end violence against women and girls and harmful practices including child marriages was signed by the government.

“Subsequently, the country enacted a Child Marriage Act which prohibits marriage of children under 18 years and the Constitutional Court ruled this year that the legal age of sexual consent be raised from 16 to 18 years in May 2022. The UN calls for enforcement of national laws and policies to ensure full protection of young girls from all forms of sexual violence and harmful practices,” UN Zimbabwe said.

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