THE call for perpetrators of child marriages to get custodial sentences must be hailed and amplified.
Every girl below the age of 18 is a child and must not be forced into marriage.
Many have spoken, but the problem persists and stiffer sentences on perpetrators may be the solution.
Many have been taken to court, fined, warned, jailed, but the problem still exists.
Today, we still get haunted by the same issue.
We still have old men and their wives giving away under-age girls in marriage for the love of wealth.
We still have parents and guardians who destroy their own girls’ future by forcing them to marry old men who will deny them their right to education.
People still need to be reminded that “no person may be compelled to enter marriage against their will and no children are to be pledged into marriage”.
It is shocking to find out that such things are happening in a country with clear laws against kidnapping, against rape and against child marriage.
The perpetrators must be arrested and jailed – even years after committing the said crimes.
This horror, this savage way of living and this gross ill-treatment of the girl child must be stopped forthwith.
The girl child is subjected to a lot of mishaps in society.
From peer pressure, pregnancies, early marriages to poverty and they all need society to act.
People are generally taking advantage of young people – girls in particular – and this has resulted in the aforementioned problems haunting the girl child.
Perhaps the biggest of these problems is unwanted pregnancies, which usually lead to girls dropping out of school.
So common is sex with minors who should be in school that many adults have accepted it as a norm – as long as the perpetrator is willing to pay lobola to the victim’s parents.
Perpetrators must be arrested and those found guilty of having sexual intercourse with minors punished with jail terms!
Abusive adults are increasing in numbers by the day and if nothing is done to make examples out of them, early marriages, the spread of HIV, unwanted pregnancies and general abuse of the girl child will be the order of the day.
Young people must be educated about the law and must know – even if they are still in school – that they cannot have sexual intercourse with girls younger than 18, no matter how old the girls may look.
The campaign for stiffer penalties against child marriage perpetrators therefore could not have come at a better time as child marriages are destroying the girl child.
Women Excel Trust, in conjunction with Bindura University of Science Education on campus chapter, has done well to bring the issue to the fore.
The whole country – and the world – must know that girls under 18 are not to be made brides as they are still young and expected to grow.
In 2016, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe ruled that child marriages are unconstitutional.