A 25 kg bag of maize on her head, baby on her back and walking 10km to the Miller is what this 14 years old life has been reduced to. A mother at a very tender age and a wife to a 35 year old man……..
It was during the 2017 festive season when I took to myself and visited my uncle at the farm.My heart was shattered, child brides are real!! It has turned to be normal in the rural and farm communities. I recall one encounter with a child bride mother who expressed bewilderment to what happened to her daughter. She explained how she had tried to stop the whole ordeal but the police imagine the police, had told her that “her 15 year old was old enough to make her own decisions and if she is willing let her be.” Where is that stated in the law? Why are we still suffering from such a Stone Age practice where the girl child was merely regarded as a sex object?
Everyone must be given an equal chance, early marriage inevitably denies a child their right to education.
Zimbabwe’s new Constitution clearly stipulates that “no person may be compelled to enter marriage against their will”(you can add even the section it’s stated), and calls on the state to ensure that no under age girls are pledged into marriage. Yet according to the Multiple Indication Cluster Survey (MICS) 2014, 31 percent of girls in Zimbabwe are married before 18 years. Of the 31 %, 4% were married before 15 years of age. When a young girl is married and gives birth, the vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability, and disregard for rule of law continues into the next generation, especially for any daughters she may have.
Unless governments act decisively, the number of under age girls married will only grow, holding both the girls and their countries back from reaching their full potential.
My heart bleeds for these young souls, considering most of them come from the poorest households. Surely the burden is not easy for them. Instead of focusing on books and playing dress up they are being forced to mature quickly and deal with real life issues that will not only affect their physical well being but psychological too.
They endure abuse from their so called husbands. Domestic violence has engulfed them at a very tender age. They had to learn to fight for their very existence and the men who were supposed to protect them have become their abusers, oh yah sexual predators. Shamelessly breathing on top of her with no remorse, only to satisfy his sexual needs. Psychological health my foot, they do not even care of these child brides mental well being.
All they ever wanted was to have a normal childhood like everyone else. She creams from the depth of her struggles, “I’m a child, do not take away my innocence, do not cut short my childhood by making me a mother. I deserve an equal chance just like every other child. To reach my full potential and fulfil my dreams. I too have aspirations.” But the world is deaf to their pleas, like a voice in the wilderness it goes unheard.
Why is child marriage a critical issue? Well it undermines all global efforts to reduce poverty and boost prosperity as it traps vulnerable individuals in a cycle of poverty. This has to stop for socio-economic development of the nation. We can’t fold our hands and let this barbaric act continue to paralyse every potential of people having a better standard of life.
Time to answer the probing question, What needs to be done to arrest this epidemic?Education is key, focus groups in schools and farm and rural communities teaching the youths of their rights and steps to take when they feel forced into early marriages. There is also a need to improve the economic status of families especially the rural and farm communities. Furthermore making the emergency assistance support accessible to everyone regardless of where they stay and who they are is vital. That way it will be easier for the girls to report any injustices before it actually happen to them. Above all, prayer it answers all things and God is not a man that He should lie. He watches his word to perform what it says.