By Fungai Jachi
CHILDREN have opened up on how parents have contributed to sexual exploitation.
Tabetha and Getrude, not their real names, were forced into marriage at the tender age of 12 with the two girls giving birth at 13.
Poverty and broken families are part of the reasons why they were caught up in the child sexual exploitation web.
However, no legal action was taken against the men who exploited these young girls.
“I was staying with my mother and step father and life wasn’t well. I thought marriage was my way out , not knowing that I was being abused. Our laws should be strengthened so that girls can be protected,” said Gertrude.
Thousands of young girls in the country are having their childhood cut short by marriage, with the strengthening of laws a key element to end the vice.
Commissioners from the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, who were in Epworth this Thursday as part of a nationwide consultative process to curb child sexual exploitation, spoke on the need for collaborative efforts.
“Child marriage is the number one violation of child rights. It has been observed that the issue of child marriage is now rampant and from the research we carried out it was discovered that one in three girls have been married before reaching the age of 18.
“COVID-19 resulted in a surge on the issue of child violation abuse. It is our duty as parents to look into our children and encourage our children to go to school. The Gender Commission will continue working hard to reduce such vices of child marriages in Zimbabwe. The outcome of this gathering will be presented before the Parliament,” said Commissioner Obert Macharaga, Vice Chairperson – Zimbabwe Gender Commission
“We are here to understand and to find out what the people think so that we help each other to come up with recommendations that will help the nation curb this scourge. Of course there is need for our laws to be aligned so that perpetrators will be brought to book,” noted Commissioner Naome Chimbetete, Zimbabwe Gender Commission.
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission consultations are targeting vulnerable communities to come up with recommendations on how to end child sexual exploitation.