from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has decried the spate of child marriages as a result of the lockdown imposed last year to curb the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The concern by the lawyers’ group comes as the continent marked the Day of the African Child, commemorated annually on June 16.
“In Zimbabwe, the number of child marriages that occurred during the national lockdown imposed by government to curtail the spread of COVID-19 increased at an alarming rate as confirmed by government early this year,” ZLHR stated.
The organisation said the harsh economic impact of the lockdown left many parents desperate, which led them to marry off their children in exchange for money or other goods.
“Unfortunately, some parents also opted to marry off their children to reduce the strain on the household income.”
The practice disproportionately affects the girl child making the goal of gender equality difficult to achieve.
“Moreover, children in child marriages are often subject to abuse in the marriages and teen pregnancies which are potentially detrimental to their health or even lethal in some cases,” ZLHR stated.
The Day of the African Child was established by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa.
Apartheid forces shot dead hundreds of protesting students.
– CAJ News