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Friday, July 12, 2024
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Mash Central rocked by teen pregnancies

Story by Tapiwa Machemedze

TEEN pregnancies are increasing at an alarming rate in Mashonaland Central province after nearly 3000 cases were recorded last year coupled with over 490 early marriages.

Statistics from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development show that 2924 teen pregnancies were recorded in Mashonaland Central province in 2023.

Provincial Director for the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development Mrs Judith Hove told the ZBC News that 492 early marriages and 2842 cases of gender-based violence were also recorded in the same year.

“When we compare figures from 2022 to 2023 the figures are going higher because people are now aware that we need to report this scourge. Our awareness campaigns are also bearing fruit which is why you see figures for men are also going higher as more men are reporting. We are leaving no place unattended as we are going to all places that we could not reach,” she said.

The alarming figures have jolted authorities into action with traditional leaders being roped in to implement by-laws on ending early marriages.

The by-laws which were first implemented in Shamva will be applied in other areas under the recently launched ‘Not in My Village’ campaign led by the National AIDS Council and Young People Network on SRHR, HIV and AIDS.

“As Chiefs, we will do everything in our power to reduce the scourge in our area, we thank the National Aids Council they have opened our minds and alerted us. They have shown us the real problem areas which are our mines, and farming areas, especially the compounds because there are no village heads to alert us so we will ask the government to assist us in ending this pandemic. We are treating it as a pandemic,” said a chief.

“We are making by-laws as a province. We started at district level and now at provincial level, so we will be able to mitigate some of the challenges we are facing. Therefore, we welcome this initiative they have taught us, it started in Shamva and greatly helped us,” added another chief.

Mount Darwin and Mazowe districts have the highest figures of teen pregnancies at 1369 and 1279.

Mbire District recorded the highest number of early marriages at 235, while Muzarabani has 94.

2842 gender-based violence cases were recorded in total, with Shamva leading at 623 cases in a development attributed to high artisanal mining activities.

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