By Kenneth Matimaire
Chimanimani, August 12, 2016 – TRADITIONAL leaders and villagers in Marange and Hot Springs areas are peeved by the sharp increase in school dropouts among young girls being lured into casual sex and early marriages by free-spending diamond panners in the area.
They accused the panners of impregnating school going age girls.
Though statistics of the affected girls in the area could not be obtained, more than 15 schools in the two affected areas have been hard hit.
Hot Springs Ward 5 councillor, Reuben Bvumbura said the issue of early child marriages has become a menace in the mining community.
“The cases were too high here. Our children’s were all falling in one pit after having been impregnated. The issue had been affecting the entire community,” he said adding that there is great need for awareness campaigns regarding the matter.
“As local leaders we engaged members of the police and more officers were deployed to look into such matters. We also thank early child marriage organisations that have opened centres here to raise awareness in school and the community at large,” said Bvumbura.
Zimbabweans laws now criminalise marriages of or among people below 18 years.
However, most of the cases go unreported as most parents and guardians look for material gains out of the often short-lived relationships.
Maruwa Jena, a community activist piled the blame on parents and guardians who are prioritising material gains at the expense of the future of their daughters.
“Parents and guardians are not playing their protective role as they should. Most families are accommodating these early marriages and not reporting the perpetrators to police due to poverty.
“Families are struggling here and they quickly think of the money and benefits that a marriage will bring not taking into consideration whether it is founded on solid ground,” she lamented.
The multi indicator cluster survey report, states that 24 percent of girls between 15 to 19 years are currently married or in union.