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AI Calls For Scrapping Of Colonial Laws Violating Girl Rights

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By Pauline Chateunga

AMNESTY International-Zimbabwe has called for the scrapping of colonial-era health laws dealing with the rights of adolescent girls especially in areas to do with accessing health services.

Zimbabwe’s Parliament is in the process of enacting the Public Health Act Amendment amid concerns the law as it stands violates the rights of girls in the country.

Article 35 of the Public Health Act states that, anyone under 18 years of age will not have legal capacity to consent to receiving health services and information.

In a statement, the organisation said it has discovered that there was confusion caused by inconsistent laws that make it harder for adolescent girls to access sexual and reproductive health information and services often putting their health at grave risk.

AI Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said adolescent girls are suffering due contradictory of laws in Zimbabwe.

“For too long, adolescent girls in Zimbabwe have suffered the consequences of inconsistent laws which are used to deny them their sexual and reproductive rights. This combined with the shame and stigma around adolescent sexual health services, means young girls faces an increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection,” said Mwananyanda.

“The reality is that many adolescents are sexually active before they are 18 and the government must act to ensure that they can access the services and advice they need to help safeguard their health and their futures.”

Public health and human rights experts have called on Zimbabwe’s government to remove age barriers for sexual and reproductive health services and information, and to ensure third party permission for accessing these services is not required.

Amnesty International is calling on lawmakers to protect the right of everyone to access sexual and reproductive health services, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

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