By Johannes Chin’ombe
Chivi, October 06, 2016 – A local traditional chief has pledged to use his powers in efforts to help end child marriages which are rampant in his area.
Loxon Nyoni, better known as Chief Masunda was speaking during an engagement meeting held in the district.
The meeting was called by My Age Zimbabwe, a local NGO.
Chief Masunda said child marriages were dangerous to girls and also added that it was the duty of every stakeholder to protect the rights of children.
“Child marriages are very bad. I will do everything in my capacity as chief to put an end to these. Currently, we are discouraging parents to stop handing over their children for marriage unwillingly.
“Most parents in our societies take decisions for their children and end up jeopardising their future. As a community, we really need massive sensitisation about the dangers of early marriage. Since government banned it, it is our role to enforce the law and no one is above the law,” Chief Masunda said.
The traditional leader also welcomed the My Age Zimbabwe initiative to accelerate anti–child marriage campaigns and said he is ready to work with them to bring the gross abuse of children’s rights in rural areas to an end.
In January this year, the Constitutional Court handed down a judgement barring child marriages.
Following the ruling, My Age Zimbabwe has taken steps to pressurise government to enact a law that restricts child marriages.
“The Constitutional Court judgement thus opens up space for civic education and empowerment of the girl child and communities through mass awareness of the girl child and women in general which My Age Zimbabwe is doing,” said My Age Zimbabwe director, Onward Chironda.
“Being appreciated by traditional leaders has also given us strength as youths since child marriages are rife in rural communities. The sad thing is that they go unnoticed most of the times simply because organisations would have failed to engage influential community leaders.
“In the drive to curb child marriages and gross children’s rights abuses, My Age Zimbabwe has also started to pressurise government to enact a law that bars child marriages. We have already started projects in Masvingo Urban, Masvingo Rural and Chivi on a project titled ‘Girls Choose’ which is meant to raise awareness on early and forced marriages as well as creating an enabling environment for the elimination of child marriages in the province,” Chironda added.
My Age Zimbabwe is a youth led, non-profit organisation which uses various innovative youth-friendly communication strategies including Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s), edutainment and volunteerism to enhance youth participation in developmental processes with a focus on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), HIV and AIDS awareness, prevention, treatment care and support.