KWEKWE: In news that may bring a sigh of relief towards curbing child marriages, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) says they have completed an inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse which commenced in 2020.
Speaking to CommuTalk during the just-ended Midlands Province Gender Forum held in Kwekwe under the theme, Gender and Economic Empowerment for Inclusive Economic Growth, ZGC CEO Virginia Muwanigwa said findings to the inquiry are coming out anytime soon.
“Noticing the rise in sexual exploitation and abuse which is often referred to as child marriages, the commission set up a national inquiry to investigate what could be causing the spike.
“During the exercise, we reached out to communities and stakeholders seeking answers to why we have this problem, what needs to be done, what are some of the drivers of these crimes and how can we stop it,” Muwanigwa said.
“We have finished this exercise and soon we are publishing a report of what came out of the exercise,” she added.
Limiting her responses to what they sought to investigate, Muwanigwa however disclosed that one major observation from the inquiry was that the spike is a ‘…manifestation of social, cultural and religious inequalities.’
Besides, sexual-related crimes on children, crimes involving child crime are also on the spike in Zimbabwe, a challenge ZGC Commissioner, Dr Mercy Nyangulu needs a robust multi-stakeholder approach to curb.
“We are no longer raising our children alone; the world is now raising our children through a global village. Parents are often left behind while children get far ahead through advances in technology.
“You would notice that it’s not the ‘sugar daddies’ who make children pregnant now but children impregnating children. Drug and substance abuse has also seen them involved in crime,” Dr Nyagulu said.
“It however can’t be ZGC alone to fight against these ills, it can’t be parent nor can it be government alone, we need to come together and see how we can get rid of this elephant in the house,” she added.
Meanwhile, the latest crime related to child marriage involves an eight-year-old currently housed at United Bulawayo Hospital and is expected to give birth by caesarean section sometime in November.
There are only six known cases in Africa where a child of nine years younger gave birth – one in Senegal, one Kenyan, a Namibian, a South African and two Nigerians.
In crime-related issues, recently, a 16-year-old girl stabbed a man to death in a shabeen brawl while in February, a 16-year-old boy ripped his 18-year-old friend’s stomach open with a kitchen knife following a quarrel while they were heading cattle in uMguza.
In another incident in March this year, an 18-year-old boy from Gwokwe was arraigned before the courts following an altercation over an empty beer bottle.